Now in his fourth decade in power, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev received welcome news on May 31 when the nation’s parliament passed a law that allows Nazarbayev to be head-of-state for life.
If Nazarbayev decides not to participate in next presidential election, which is scheduled for 2020, the 77-year-old politician will still have significant influence over the country’s politics.
“In view of the first President of Kazakhstan – the Elbasy’s (an honorary title for the president) historical mission empowers him to be a life-long chairman of the Security Council,” the document says.
According to the legislation, after the Parliament’s endorsement, the bill should be signed by Nazarbayev.
Government reforms started in early 2017 when a part of the presidential powers were handed over to the government, part of a series of reforms that were said to be part of the process of the ‘state entering into a period of maturity’ and a desire to move away from the President’s ‘manual control’ of the country’s political and economic life.
The bill adopted by the Kazakh Parliament shows an entirely opposite trend. While previously the Security Council was an advisory body, according to the new legislation, the body becomes “a coordinating constitutional body” and empowers it to consider main policy directions when it concerns national security and state security.
Nazarbayev has run the country since the end of 1989 when he held the position of the First Secretary of the Communist Party in the Kazakh SSR. He is considered as a record-breaker comparing to the other leaders of the former Soviet republics in terms of staying in power. In 2010, the Parliament of Kazakhstan passed a bill on the “Leader of the Nation (Elbasy)”, which grants Nazarbayev and his family immunity from ever being prosecuted.