Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has ruled the former Soviet republic since 1989, will continue to dictate policy even after his retirement under bills passed by parliament.
Lawmakers in the Majilis, the lower house, unanimously voted to grant Nazarbayev the title “leader of the nation” and immunity from prosecution for life, Kazinform said today. His property and that of his family were declared inviolable, the official news service reported from the capital Astana.
The bills, which must be approved by the Senate, make it mandatory for the government to get Nazarbayev’s approval on domestic and foreign policy initiatives, Novosti-Kazakhstan reported. Saule Doszhanova, a Majilis spokeswoman, declined to comment on the legislation when contacted by Bloomberg News.
Nazarbayev, who turns 70 in July, won his most recent seven-year term in a 2005 election that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said failed to meet “a number” of the organization’s commitments and other international standards for democratic elections. Kazakhstan chairs the OSCE this year. The Central Asian country holds 3.2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, according to BP Plc.
In 2007, Nazarbayev signed a law that exempted him from a constitutional two-term limit. His Nur Otan party later won 88 percent of the vote in a parliamentary election and became the only party in the Majilis.
A potential rival to Nazarbayev, opposition leader and former Information Minister Altynbek Sarsenbayev, was gunned down in 2006. A Kazakh court convicted 10 men in the killing, including six officers from a State Security Service special forces unit.
Under the new laws, defacing pictures of Nazarbayev will be a crime, Novosti-Kazakhstan said.
The lawmakers who sponsored the bills denied that they were a response to recent events in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, where President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in violent unrest last month, Novosti-Kazakhstan reported on May 5.