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Kazakhstan Adopts Reforms to Strengthen Role of Parliament





President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev signed March 10 into law a number of amendments to the country’s constitution that strengthen the role of Parliament and take powers away from the presidency, though the government remains a presidential system.

Twenty-six amendments have been made to 19 articles of Kazakhstan’s constitution, most of them redistributing the powers of the President, the Parliament and the government.

Discussing the bill in Parliament March 6, Speaker of the Mazhilis (Kazakhstan’s lower chamber of Parliament) Nurlan Nigmatulin said the reforms would help propel the development of Kazakhstan’s democracy and strengthen the people’s power over government.

At a joint meeting of Parliament earlier this month, the President expressed his support for the changes. “First, the new law significantly strengthens the Parliament’s role in state affairs, including in the formation of the government,” he said. “Second, the government becomes more independent, receiving power to directly manage the economy. Third, the constitutional foundation of law enforcement and judicial systems will be modernised. The law lays the foundations for the activities of the Prosecutor General’s Office, providing the highest supervision over the observance of the rule of law and representation of state interests in court. Fourth, constitutional control will be strengthened. Fifth, guarantees of immutability of our independence, unitary status, territorial integrity and form of government are to be fixed at the constitutional level.”

These amendments support the 100 Concrete Steps Plan, the guiding document of Kazakhstan’s ongoing five institutional reforms programme.

“The new challenges mentioned in my state-of-the-nation address lay particular responsibility on the legislative and executive bodies. I am sure the expansion of the powers of Parliament and the government will contribute to a more effective achievement of the objectives of the third modernisation of the economy,” the President said.

The bill was approved by Parliament in its first and second readings on March 3 and 6 respectively.

At the official signing ceremony in the Akorda March 10, Nazarbayev thanked the Parliament, the Working Group and all who had helped develop the packet of constitutional changes.

As Kazakhstan develops, it must continually reform, the President explained, and the new amendments will make the country more democratic and more stable.

“We are a young country building its statehood. We need to meet the requirements of a changing world, both in the economy and in politics,” he said.

The updated constitution will help Kazakhstan meet the challenges of the evolving global economy, the President said. He reminded the government of the goal of becoming one of the 30 most developed countries in the world by 2050 and asked all citizens to work toward that goal.

“I am confident that together we will be able to ensure the successful development of the state and the prosperity of our people in the 21st century. The main goal of the reforms is to preserve our unity, friendship and mutual understanding, as well as equality in terms of ethnic, linguistic and confessional identity. Thanks to our cohesion, we have achieved many victories. Following these amendments, we will achieve new ones,” he said.

The amendments had been under discussion since late January. The country’s Constitutional Court approved the bill March 9.



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