Kazakhstan approves early presidential election

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN: Kazakhstan's parliament on Wednesday approved amendments to the constitution allowing incumbent president Nursultan Nazarbayev to call an early presidential election.

"Early presidential elections will be announced by the president of the Republic and will be held at a date and in accordance with the procedure as specified in the constitutional law,” the ammendment read as reported by Interfax Kazakhstan news agency.

The president suggested last Monday that the country hold an early presidential election instead of a referendum on the extension of the presidential term. The European Union welcomed the decision.

Nazarbayev, 70, has been in power since 1991, when Kazakhstan became independent from the Soviet Union. In 1995, his powers were extended at a referendum. The Kazakh parliament allowed him, as the first president, to run for presidency indefinitely as of 2007. Nazarbayev's current term in office expires in 2012.

According to the country's constitution, the presidential term is currently seven years but will be five years starting 2012.


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