Fri. Sep 30th, 2022

Kazakh President Kassim-Jomart Tokayev signed a law on Saturday that limits presidential terms to one seven-year term and restores ‘Astana’ as the name of the Central Asian nation’s capital.

Tokayev signed the bill to amend the country’s constitution a day after it was approved by both chambers of Kazakhstan’s parliament.

“The bill contains a clause for a seven-year term for the president without the right to re-election,” Kazakh Justice Minister Kanat Musin announced as he presented the amendment to lawmakers.

It also had a clause renaming the capital Nur-Sultan back to Astana.

The minister said, “There has been a debate in the society for a long time about changing the name of the capital, so this proposal has been included in the bill considering the public opinion.”

Astana was renamed Nur-Sultan in 2019 in honor of Kazakhstan’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, at a cost to the state of about 30 million tenge (about $64,000).

Authorities said they expect the new changes to involve less cost due to digitization of most of the procedures.

Although the renaming of the Kazakh capital has become one of the most controversial issues among Central Asian countries in recent times, presidential reform is of key importance for Kazakh politics, the deputies noted.

“Our country has a bitter experience of re-election without a term for the president. We have had only two presidents in 30 years. If we implement this amendment, we will have two presidents every 14 years, not every 30 years,” declared the deputy. Isa Kazivek during a debate in Parliament.

The rule would be permanent, Musin said, adding that the presidential amendment, like other rules on Kazakh territorial integrity and sovereignty, could not be reviewed by future leaders.

Astana (meaning ‘capital’ in Kazakh) has changed its name several times throughout history: first, it was called Tselinograd, then Akmola (White Grave or White Holy Place). It became Astana in 1998 when then President Nazarbayev declared it the capital.

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