As Kazakhstan gears up to chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2010, Astana is facing criticism over its recent democratization record. Helping to highlight the country's image issue is the question of whether or not President Nursultan Nazarbayev favors a proposal to dispense with elections and become president-for-life.
When it was announced that Nazarbayev would appear on prime-time television on November 13 to field questions from the public, many Kazakhstani viewers tuned in hoping to hear his thoughts on the president-for-life idea. But in a live broadcast that lasted almost three hours, Nazarbayev did not address his future plans for the presidency. Instead he used the occasion as a platform to outline some priorities for the country's upcoming OSCE chairmanship, even as he rebuffed criticism of human rights abuses as a "distortion."
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