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Kazakh Senators Back Idea Of Lifetime Presidency

President for life? Nursultan Nazarbaev
President for life? Nursultan Nazarbaev
ASTANA -- Some Kazakh Senate members say they would support legislation that would allow Nursultan Nazarbaev to remain president-for-life, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Aleksandr Sudyin, deputy speaker of the Senate, said in Astana that the so-called Law on the Nation's Leader should be adopted.

Senator Yevgeny Aman said it would be good to hear Nazarbaev's opinion on such a proposal.

Darkhan Kaletaev, the first deputy chairman of Kazakhstan's presidential Nur-Otan party, announced on September 14 that the party is initiating "a project on defining the status of the country's leader."

Kaletaev said the legislation might include granting a lifetime presidential term for Nazarbaev.

Nur-Otan is officially headed by Nazarbaev and the party holds all 77 seats in parliament's lower chamber, the Mazhilis.

The idea of granting a lifetime presidency to Nazarbaev was allegedly first publicly made by a professor in western Kazakh province last week.

In 2007, parliament adopted an amendment to the constitution extending the presidential term to seven years and lifting the two-term limit on the number of terms that Nazarbaev could serve.

The next presidential election in Kazakhstan is scheduled for 2012.

Kazakhstan will take over the leadership of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in January.

Opposition parties and movements in Kazakhstan are harshly criticizing the president-for-life proposal.