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Nazarbaev Recommends Abandoning Proposed Amendment On Private-Property Ownership

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev has recommended that the government and lawmakers should abandon his controversial proposal for a constitutional amendment on private property ownership, saying "the issue is sensitive and not supported by many people in the country."

Kazakhstan's presidential press service said in a March 1 statement that Nazarbaev now thinks Article 26 of Kazakhstan's constitution should not be changed.

The statement said Nazarbaev made the recommendation on March 1 to a working group for the constitutional reform.

Article 26 currently states that "citizens of Kazakhstan" have a right to own private property in the country.

In January, Nazarbaev proposed that the clause be changed to say "everyone in Kazakhstan" has a right to own property.

That change, which was proposed together with other constitutional amendments, has sparked concerns among Kazakh citizens who fear it might permit foreigners to buy and control large tracts of land in Kazakhstan.

Possible land ownership by foreigners and foreign companies became a contentious political issue in Kazakhstan in 2016 when there were large protests across the country against proposed agricultural-land reforms.

More than 1,000 activists were detained during those demonstrations before Nazarbaev in May declared a moratorium on the proposed land ownership reforms.

In November, two demonstrators were convicted of inciting social hatred during the protests. They were sentenced to five years in prison.

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