Kazakh President Unveils Plans of Constitutional Reforms

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev gave a special televised address Jan. 25 to the nation on the redistribution of powers among governmental bodies which would involve, among other steps, amending the country’s Constitution.

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A special working group had been created by the President’s decree in December 2016, which carried out a thorough work on the issue of redistributing powers.

“The upcoming reform is based on the principles of our development and the principles of modern development in general. The quintessence is that the President delegates some powers to the Parliament and the Government. Vertical separation of power was necessary to us in the course of overcoming the enormous difficulties of state formation,” Nazarbayev stated in his address.

According to him, the reform is aimed at improving the efficiency of the public administration system. The essence of the proposed reform is a serious redistribution of power and democratisation of the political system as a whole, he said.

“Under the new conditions the President’s priority areas will be strategic functions, and the role of a supreme arbiter in the relations between governmental branches. The head of state will also focus on foreign policy, national security and defence,” Nazarbayev said.

The role of the government and the parliament will be significantly expanded. The transformation, according to the Kazakh President, will be conducted in two key areas. First, a significant part of the president’s functions on regulating social and economic processes will be transferred to the government and other executive bodies. Secondly, the relations between different branches will need to be balanced at a constitutional level. Nazarbayev proposed to strengthen the role of the parliament in terms of its influence on the government.

“It is important to strengthen the role of Parliament in the formation of Government, to enhance the responsibility of the Cabinet before the deputies. The winning party in the parliamentary election will have a decisive influence on the formation of the Government. On this basis, it will be logical, if the government will abdicate authority to the newly elected Mazhilis, not the President, as it was before,” Nazarbayev highlighted.

The reforms also include simplifying the procedure of passing a vote of no- confidence in ministers from the parliament chambers. This will strengthen the control of the legislature over the executive power.

Nazarbayev proposed to transfer the approval of state programmes to the government, so that it will bear full responsibility for those. The government might as well acquire the right to form and to abolish central executive bodies that are not included in it. The project on constitutional reform will be presented for public discussion during Jan. 26 – Feb. 26, 2017.

The informal translation of the full text of the televised address of the President Nazarbayev is available here.