Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 8

President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan has signed a decree that substantially enhances his powers, the president’s legal adviser Igor Rogov said yesterday. The decree makes the Kazakh president the only authority who can initiate constitutional amendments, denying parliamentary deputies that right. It also allows the president to appoint and dismiss ministers without the consent of parliament; to dismiss the government in its entirety and suspend or invalidate governmental decisions; to dissolve parliament and call regular or anticipated parliamentary elections; and to call referenda at his discretion. According to Rogov, the decree also gives the president the right to appoint and dismiss the chairman and two members of the Constitutional Court, recommend to the upper house of parliament his nominees for the Supreme Court, and to appoint and dismiss the chairman of the national bank. The president now also has the power to appoint administrative heads of Kazakh regions and cities. (15)

Nazarbayev has been using three arguments to justify the expansion of his powers: democratic, pragmatic, and cultural. The first argument asserts that the 1995 referenda, which extended his term of office and adopted a new Kazakh constitution, gave Nazarbayev a popular mandate to establish presidential rule. The second holds that strong presidential rule is the most effective way to promote reform unencumbered by resistance from backward-looking forces or special interests. The third asserts that Central Asian countries lack the tradition and political culture of parliamentarism.

Uzbek Harvest: Cotton Down, Grain Up.