Deputies also approved a proposal to change the name of the Central Asian nation's capital back to Astana from Nur-Sultan as part of President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev's campaign to create "a new Kazakhstan." (file photo)
NUR-SULTAN -- The Kazakh parliament's lower chamber, the Mazhilis, has approved a presidential proposal to replace the current system of a maximum of two consecutive five-year presidential terms with a single seven-year presidential term.
Deputies also approved on September 16 a proposal by a parliamentary group to change the name of the Central Asian nation's capital back to Astana from Nur-Sultan as part of President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev's campaign to create "a new Kazakhstan."
The proposals were included in a bill containing constitutional amendments that is now expected to be signed into law by Toqaev, who changed the capital's name to Nur-Sultan in 2019 in honor of his predecessor and the nation’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbaev.
On September 1, Toqaev, who has been distancing himself from his predecessor, called for an early presidential election in the coming months in which he will seek a second term in office while also proposing an increase of the presidential term to seven years from five years, while barring future presidents from seeking more than one term.
Nazarbaev, who had run the tightly controlled former Soviet republic with an iron fist for almost three decades, chose Toqaev as his successor when he stepped down in 2019.
Though he was no longer president, Nazarbaev retained sweeping powers as the head of the Security Council. He also enjoyed substantial powers by holding the title of "elbasy" or leader of the nation.
Many citizens, however, remained upset by the oppression felt during Nazarbaev's reign.
Those feelings came to a head in January when unprecedented antigovernment nationwide protests started over a fuel price hike and exploded into countrywide deadly unrest over perceived corruption under the Nazarbaev regime and the cronyism that allowed his family and close friends enriched themselves while ordinary citizens failed to share in the oil-rich Central Asian nation's wealth.
Toqaev subsequently stripped Nazarbaev of his Security Council role, taking it over himself. Since then, several of Nazarbaev's relatives and allies have been pushed out of their positions or resigned. Some have been arrested on corruption charges.
In June this year, a Toqaev-initiated referendum removed Nazarbaev's name from the constitution and annulled his status as elbasy.
Kazakh critics say Toqaev's initiatives were mainly cosmetic and don't change the nature of the autocratic system in a country that has been plagued for years by rampant corruption and nepotism.