Kazakhstani voters approve of constitutional changes

MOSCOW -- The Kazakhstani nation of Central Asia voted in favor of proposed constitutional amendments widely considered to be an attempt to discredit the legacy of Nursultan Nazarbayev (the ex-Soviet republic's leader for over three decades).

Kazakhstani voters approve of constitutional changes

MOSCOW -- The Kazakhstani nation of Central Asia voted in favor of proposed constitutional amendments widely considered to be an attempt to discredit the legacy of Nursultan Nazarbayev (the ex-Soviet republic's leader for over three decades).

According to preliminary results, 77% of Kazakhstan's voters voted for the constitutional amendments. Just under 19% voted against them. About 2.6% of ballots were invalid. 68% of the voters participated.

The President Kassym Jomart Tokayev called the vote. He has steadily increased his power since January's violent protests that left over 230 people dead. Protests were sparked not only by an increase in fuel prices but also because of widespread discontent among the public about a stagnant economy, and authoritarian governments.

Sunday's referendum asked specific questions about modifications such as banning certain officials from joining political party and prohibiting death penalty. It was largely about Tokayev’s overall course.

Tokayev made a deliberate move to discredit Nazarbayev who was Kazakhstan's communist boss and president following the 1991 Soviet collapse. Nazarbayev was forced to resign in 2019, but he had held powerful positions as the head of the ruling party, the country's security council and other important posts until the unrest in January.

Tokayev took over as head of the security council during the unrest. During the demonstrations, many protestors chanted "old men out," in reference to the 81 year-old former president. Tokayev took over the reins of the ruling party later in January.

Tokayev pledged political reforms in March. These included reducing the power and strengthening the parliament. Tokayev also called for a reduction in government involvement in the economy and a bridging of the income gap between the rich and the poor.

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