On February 10, 2022, Kazakhstan's president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev attends a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart, not seen in this picture, following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV SPUTNIK AFP ALMATY Kazakhstan votes on Sunday a constitutional reform promoted by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as a step towards liberalizing the tightly-run oil-rich nation.
The reform is likely to give the 69-year-old Tokayev the political capital he needs to run for a second term in the Central Asian country closely allied with Russia, this time without the backing of his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Since January, after Nazarbayev's abrupt resignation after three decades in power, Tokayev has subverted an attempted coup and removed Nazarbayev and his relatives from key positions in the government.
The reform will remove Nazarbayev from his national leader status and allow greater representation of various groups in parliament, and give him lifetime privileges because of the moves to decentralize decision-making and allow greater representation of different groups in parliament.
Tokayev described the proposed changes as a move from a superpresidential system to a presidential republic with a strong parliament. It is a reversal from a decades-long trend toward strengthening presidential powers, and critics say the reform is cosmetic.
Tokayev said he lays the foundation for the Second Republic, and addressed the nation on the eve of the vote.
Tokayev has called for higher taxes on the lucrative extractive industries and high-income individuals, saying that social justice would be the cornerstone of a new social contract.
READ MORE: Kazakh president says he has weathered an attempted coup d'etat.