Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev dissolved the Central Asian country’s lower house of parliament on Thursday and set an early election for March 19, his office said. The announcement comes a year after Kazakhstan saw deadly riots that killed 238 people in January 2022.
A piece of information provided by the officials in Kazakhstan says that President Tokayev who has been in power since 2019 has asked to conduct fresh elections in March 2023 after dissolving the lower house, Majlis. This information is counted under the recent riots witnessed by the state which took the lives of 238 people and left many in unstable conditions.
“In accordance with the Constitution, after consultations with the chairmen of the chambers of Parliament and the Prime Minister, I signed decrees on the dissolution of the Majilis and the early termination of the powers of maslikhats,” Tokayev said in a statement shared by the presidency.
He also said, “We have entered a new era in the development of Kazakhstan. The country is undergoing a dynamic and comprehensive renewal process. These elections will become the embodiment of the changes taking place in society and will give a powerful impetus to the further modernization of our political system.”
2022 Kazakh Unrest and its Aftermath
In early January 2022, protestors got together on the streets of Kazakhstan to protest against the rising prices of gas. They had gone from 60 tenge to 120 tenge a litre. Protests and demonstrations are illegal in the state without prior permission of the government. President Tokayev labelled them as terrorists and called for help from Russia. From January 5-7, the country saw the biggest economic and political upheaval. Buildings were burnt down, official government buildings were plundered and army and security services were looted. Out of the 238 people killed, about a dozen were police officials. Russia provided help due to the history and the presence of 3.5 million ethnic Russians resident in the country.
In response to the uprising the country’s purely titular president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev promised comprehensive political and social change including limiting his power and strengthening parliament. Constitutional changes did take place like transferring of powers from the executive branch to the legislature and held an early presidential election in November However, the election was neither free nor fair and Tokayev did not run against a strong opponent.
Along with the message of dissolving the Majjlis, the officials also announced that they will give new impetus to the modernisation of the natural resource-rich country. The voting for deputies of the Majilis will be held on March 19, while the election of deputies to the maslikhats (local representative bodies) elected by the people of a region, will be scheduled by the Central Election Commission.
On Thursday, Tokayev’s political party also kicked out one of its deputies after he supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Member of Parliament Azamat Abildayev told this month on the radio that he supported Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine and described Kyiv’s government as “Nazis”.
Kazakhstan does have close ties with Russia but the country does not support Russia’s actions, according to a survey published last month by Kazakh polling firm Demoscope therefore Abildayev’s comments were hurtful and could impact the elections.
The government too does not support Russia’s invasion instead it has called for peace.