Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Yomart Tokayev proposed today that early presidential elections be held in the fall and that the president’s term be reduced to seven years without the possibility of renewal.
Tokayev, who has been in power since 2019 after the resignation of then-powerful Nursultan Nazarbayev, has also proposed early parliamentary elections in the first half of 2023.
“I propose to hold early presidential elections in the fall of 2022,” he said speaking before parliament, explaining that this is necessary to “strengthen the structure of the state” and advance “reforms.”
The next presidential election would normally be held in Kazakhstan in 2024. Until now the president’s term lasted five years and could be renewed twice more.
In January, Kazakhstan was rocked by peaceful protests against rising fuel prices, which were followed by riots in which more than 230 people were killed.
This was the worst political crisis to rock the former Soviet republic since its independence in 1991.
At the heart of the unrest, observers say, was a standoff between Tokayev and his predecessor, Nazarbayev.
In 2019, when Tokayev was elected to the presidency for a five-year term, Nazarbayev supported him, while retaining many powers as head of the country’s security council and the ruling party.
But their relationship soured after the January riots, with Nazarbayev losing his powers and his relatives resigning or being ousted from key positions.
In June, Tokayev’s proposed constitutional reforms aimed at ending the Nazarbayev era were adopted in a referendum.
The upcoming elections are expected to strengthen Tokaev’s mandate, as he is expected to win them.
Also today, in an effort to boost his support among citizens, Kazakhstan’s president announced a 17% increase in the minimum wage and a plan to transfer half of the National Investment Fund’s revenue to the personal accounts of children under 18, so to be able to study or buy a house.
In this Fund, with resources amounting to 53 billion dollars, a large part of Kazakhstan’s revenue from the sale of oil and minerals is concentrated, which is invested in foreign currencies and bonds.