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Kazakhstan starts holding referendum on constitutional reforms

Kazakh voters began casting their ballots on Sunday in a referendum on constitutional reform promoted by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to introduce a new governance model to the country.

Around 11.7 million registered voters headed to the polls to decide whether or not to approve the amendments and additions to the Central Asian nation’s Constitution.

This is the second constitutional reform being voted on in the country’s 27-year history.

A third of the current Constitution, which was accepted by popular vote on Aug. 30, 1995, will be changed if a “yes” vote wins.

The reform, promoted by Tokayev on March 16, intends to introduce a new governance model to the country and initiate a new era also known as “New Kazakhstan” or the second republic.

Proposed amendments

According to the draft being voted on, the new constitution will clearly state that Kazakh soil, along with its underground natural sources, belongs to the nation.

The reforms also bar the heads and staff of law enforcement agencies and armed forces from joining political parties.

Another envisaged change is the reform of the Constitutional Council as the Constitutional Court to be active starting on Jan. 1, 2023.

Parliament stands to be strengthened with the reforms, while president will need to seek approval from local assemblies before appointing mayors and governors.

The number of deputies appointed by the president to the parliament will also be decreased from 15 to 10 under the revisions, while only the lower legislative chamber will have the power to pass laws.

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