Kazakhstan: Opportunities for Democratic Reforms Possible with President’s Resignation | Freedom House

Kazakhstan: Opportunities for Democratic Reforms Possible with President’s Resignation

Washington

Responding to the news that President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan has announced his resignation, Freedom House issued the following statement: 

“President Nazarbayev’s decision to resign is a very rare example of a voluntary transfer of power in Central Asia, and it provides Kazakhstan with the opportunity to undertake meaningful democratic reforms,” said Marc Behrendt, director for Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “Interim president Kassim Jomart Tokayev should start by allowing political parties to register and campaign, and encourage civil society and the media to play an active role in strengthening informed public participation in the reform process as well as the presidential election planned for December 2020.” 

Background:

On March 19, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced he would resign after 30 years in power. Nazarbayev will retain control of the National Security Council and is legally protected as “Leader of the Nation” under the constitution. Political opposition is effectively banned in Kazakhstan, and media and civil society operate under heavy restrictions.

Kazakhstan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2019 and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2018.

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