Early Kazakh presidential election to be April 3

February 04. Central Asia Newswire

Early Kazakh presidential election to be April 3Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree Friday calling early presidential elections for April 3.

The presidential polls were originally scheduled for 2012. But the Kazakh leader Monday proposed holding early elections after rejecting a referendum proposal that would have extended his term to 2020 without elections in 2012 or 2017.

The referendum plan had gathered 5.1 million signatures, or more than 50 percent of the electorate, but was declared unconstitutional by the country’s Constitutional Council.

The referendum idea also prompted criticism from the international community. The European Union declared that the scrapping of elections would negate Kazakhstan’s previous commitments to democracy.

Under Kazakhstan’s laws, Nazarbayev could have vetoed the council’s declaration. He declined to do so in favor of calling early elections.

In his address to the nation on Tuesday the president said his decision to reject the referendum should be seen as a “historic democratic lesson of obeying the constitution …. Guided by the country’s highest interests, I decided not to hold the referendum,” the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

In response to Nazarbayev’s proposal to call early polls, the two houses of parliament convened Wednesday to make the necessary constitutional amendments, which they passed in the evening.