Preliminary returns released August 31 by the Central Electoral Commission show that some 90 percent of registered voters turned out, and 89 percent of these voted yes, in the August 30 referendum on Kazakhstan’s new constitution. The document enables President Nursultan Nazarbayev to rule by decree, to impose a state of emergency, and to dissolve the legislature if it votes no-confidence in his government, or if it twice rejects his nominee for prime-minister. Nazarbayev organized this referendum after having won another in April, by a similar margin, to extend his term of office until 2000. In both referenda, the Russian-inhabited industrial areas in northern Kazakhstan reported voting margins similar to those of the rural, ethnic Kazakh south. Local independent groups and Western observers, including the US embassy in Almaty, have criticized the constitution. Monitors from six countries, including a single Western one, are due to issue a report on the referendum.
Nazarbayev To Urge Banning Of Nuclear Testing During China Trip.