Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Thursday (January 19) dissolved the country’s Parliament and called for a snap election on March 19. President Tokayev, 69, also dissolved the country’s local legislatures. In a message to the citizens published by the presidency, Tokayev said he hoped that the snap election will give new impetus to the modernisation of Kazakhstan, a report by news agency AFP said.
President Tokayev was re-elected in November last year, winning 80 per cent of the votes after an election which was criticised for its lack of competition. During the poll campaign, Tokayev had promised to create a ”New Kazakhstan” which he said would be fairer. The 69-year-old leader also promised to reform “all the main institutions of power”.
The announcement of a snap election in Kazakhstan comes a year after the country saw anti-government protests against the rise in fuel prices. The protests, which were initially peaceful, soon took a violent turn resulting in the deaths of 238 people. Thousands of people were arrested for their alleged participation in the demonstrations. According to a report by the BBC in January 2022, the government had blamed the violence on terrorists with international links but did not provide any evidence.
Meanwhile, nearly a week back, the government repealed a law that granted authority to former President Nursultan Nazarbayev to further limit his and his family’s influence. Nazarbayev served as the president from 1991 to 2019 and retained political influence even after stepping down. A number of his relatives had senior positions in the public sector but were sacked after last year’s violence.
However, some closest relatives of the former president enjoyed legal immunity until now. On January 13, a joint session of both chambers of the Parliament voted in favour of revoking this law. “During a period of deep political transformations, when Kazakhstan is moving towards democracy and pluralism, it is important not to allow any mechanisms leading the appropriation of power by separate groups,” lawmaker Erlan Sairov told Parliament, according to a report by news agency Kazinform.