06/07/2022, 11.30
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Kazakhs approve the Tokaev Constitution

by Vladimir Rozanskij

77.1% of voters in favour. Numerous objections from independent observers. As many as 33 changes were proposed to democratise the country and overcome the current super-presidentialism. President Tokaev is trying to get rid of the shadow of Nazarbaev, the former "father of the fatherland".



Moscow (AsiaNews) - 77.1% of voters in Kazakhstan voted in favour of the constitutional amendments proposed by President Kasym-Žomart Tokaev, with 18.6% voting against, according to figures officially announced yesterday by the chairman of the Referendum Commission, Nurlan Abdirov. The majority in favour rallied more than 6 million people, and was affirmed in all 17 regions of the country, making the approval, which required an absolute majority of votes in at least two-thirds of the regions, republican cities and the capital Nur-Sultan, effective. The victory of the reform was also confirmed in the 65 seats abroad.

The 1.58% null votes brought together many protesters of the vote in general, who wrote phrases critical of the president and the ruling caste in the bulletin. Despite all of Tokaev's efforts to get rid of the ruling class linked to his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbaev, there are still very hostile feelings among the population, especially in Almaty and the southern part of the country. In reality, void ballots would be 2.58% (over 200,000 people), but many ballots were not counted 'due to the impossibility of determining the will of the voter', as Abdirov explained.

There was no shortage of protests from independent observers, whom the authorities often did not even let into the polling stations or were very restricted in their movements, and who were prevented from documenting the situation with photos and videos. There were several breaches of secrecy in the voting, many ballot papers were handed in without identity documents being checked, there were votes on behalf of relatives and double voting in different polling stations. Many voters photographed the completed ballot paper 'for reporting to work', often with the phone provided by 'inspectors', and several people entered the polling station asking 'who should I vote for?', without knowing anything about the referendum questions.

The police controlled events everywhere with extraordinary security measures, especially in places where spontaneous demonstrations were feared, starting with Almaty, where the opposition had announced protest actions. Observers denounced the arbitrariness of the police officers in many cases, as well as stalking and provocations against them.

The 33 changes to the Constitution will therefore have to prove that they are adequate for the purpose announced by Tokaev, that of the democratisation of the country, overcoming super-presidentialism and strengthening the role of parliament and society. The symbolic value of the referendum remains the overcoming of the 'sacralisation of power' that had formed during the 30-year rule of Nazarbayev, who lost his official title of 'elbasy' (father of the fatherland). The 'eternal' former president went to the polling stations, greeting those present, but without making any statements.

Only in the evening did Nazarbaev grant a brief telephone interview to his 'trusted' political scientist Daniar Ašimbaev, in which he mentioned the criminal charges against his many relatives involved in the corruption cases reported in recent months. He shifted all responsibility to the former head of the Knb Security Services, Karim Masimov, who allegedly meddled in the management of the 'Nazarbaev Foundation', one of the organisations that, according to investigators, served to run the president's family's multibillion-dollar business empire.

The future of Kazakhstan is now in the hands of Tokaev, who, if he really succeeds in overcoming the era of 'corrupt satrapies', could become an example for all former Soviet countries, especially those in Central Asia.

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