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Kazakh Lawmakers Want President Named 'Leader Of The Nation'

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev
ASTANA -- Three Kazakh parliament deputies today proposed giving President Nursultan Nazarbaev the official title "Leader of the Nation," RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The proposal would grant Nazarbaev the lifetime title and protect him from any prosecution for criminal or administrative wrongdoing as the country's leader.

Deputies Amzebek Zholshybekov, Rozakul Khalmuradov, and Svetlana Ferkho -- members of the pro-presidential Nur-Otan party -- made the proposal. Nur-Otan is the only party represented in the lower house of parliament.

"President Nazarbaev is not just a president, he is the founder of modern Kazakhstan and therefore should be given the title 'Leader of the Nation,'" Zholshybekov said in parliament in Astana today.

Nazarbaev already has immunity from prosecution -- under the 2000 law on the "First President of the Nation" -- so it's unclear what extra protection, if any, the proposed new title would grant.

Zholshybekov said the law adopted 10 years ago needs to be amended as it is too old and does not correspond to the current level of "Kazakhstan's development."

He said Nazarbaev's status as "Leader of the Nation" should be fully and legally defined on a constitutional level.

In December, several members of parliament proposed making Nazarbaev president-for-life, although the procedure to pass the legislation was halted.

Some international organizations came out against the proposal.

Kazakhstan is the 2010 chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.