Kazakhstan’s Tokayev denies plans for referendum, taking part in 2026 election

Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

© APA | Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

# 03 January 2024 10:08 (UTC +04:00)

Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has denied rumored plans for a constitutional referendum and for running again in the presidential election in 2026, APA reports citing TASS.

"This is disinformation. I am convinced that arbitrary changes to the Constitution, especially on such a fundamental issue, are no longer possible. The constitutional reform was carried out not with the aim to leave room for arbitrary changes to the fundamental law," the head of state said in an interview published in the newspaper Egemen Kazakhstan (Sovereign Kazakhstan).

The provision for a single presidential term in the Constitution remains invariable, he said.

"This rule is as inviolable as the independence, unitarity, territorial integrity and form of government of our state," he said.

Tokayev recalled that he had raised the idea of a single seven-year presidential term in discussions behind closed doors 15 years ago.

"Then this proposal was not supported. After being elected president, I weighed all the pros and cons. I thought a lot about how this idea might be put into practice. In 2022, several important constitutional changes aimed at eliminating super-presidential powers were implemented. It was then that I came up with the idea of a single seven-year term. This initiative received nationwide support. This says it all," Tokayev said.

On June 5, 2022, Kazakhstan held a referendum to amend the Constitution. The proposed changes were supported by more than 77%. In accordance with the amendments, the powers of the head of state were reduced, the role of parliament and local representative bodies was significantly enhanced, the human rights sphere was systematically strengthened, the Constitutional Court was recreated, the death penalty was finally abolished and provisions regarding the status of the first President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, were dropped.

In 2019, Nazarbayev declared his resignation, pointing to the need for a new generation of leaders to come to power to continue reforming the country. Under the Constitution, the powers of the head of state were then delegated to Tokayev, the then speaker of the upper house of parliament. In June of the same year, Tokayev won the presidential election. In November 2022, in a snap election, he was re-elected president for a single seven-year term.