Kazakh leader proposes referendum on constitutional reform

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Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev delivers a speech during a festival marking Nauryz, an ancient holiday celebrating the spring equinox, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, March 21, 2022. REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev

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NUR-SULTAN, April 29 (Reuters) - Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev proposed holding a referendum on constitutional reform, his office said on Friday, instead of running the amendments through parliament.

Tokayev has this year proposed a number of changes to the constitution that would decentralise decision-making in the oil-rich Central Asian nation.

On Friday, he said that because the proposals would change one-third of the constitution, it would make more sense for citizens to vote on them directly.

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Tokayev did not say when the referendum could be held.

The former Soviet republic last held a referendum in 1995 when it adopted its current constitution, which was subsequently amended repeatedly by parliament.

Elected president in 2019, Tokayev reinforced his position this year by sidelining his predecessor and former patron Nursultan Nazarbayev. He then announced plans for a broad range of reforms that would usher in a "second republic".

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Reporting by Tamara Vaal Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by John Stonestreet

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