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Kazakhstan president approves constitutional term limits amendment

[JURIST] Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev [official website; BBC profile] Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment removing term limits on his own presidency. The measure, which only applies to Nazarbayev, was proposed by the president last week and was approved [JURIST report] by a large majority of the Kazakh parliament [official website] on Friday. Under the amendment, subsequent presidents will have to abide by the law limiting them to two terms in office. The amendment also reduced presidential terms from 7 years to 5.

Nazarbayev has been in power since 1989, but Kazakhstan has never had elections considered fair and free by Western monitors. He was last elected [BBC report] in December 2005 with 91 percent of the vote, but international observers raised concerns of fraud [JURIST report]. Opposition parties unsuccessfully challenged the results [JURIST report]. Prior to the amendment, Nazarbayev would have been barred from seeking re-election upon his current term's expiration in 2012. AP has more.

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