Kazakh lawmakers seek vote to extend leader's rule

Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:46am GMT
 

Nazarbayev's administration issued no immediate comment. There are no opposition deputies in the legislature, but opposition figures have denounced the referendum as a bid to avoid a competitive election.

Under Kazakh law, a referendum can be proposed either by parliament or by the public through petitions which require 200,000 signatures.

A "people's initiative" began collecting signatures on Monday to hold a referendum extending Nazarbayev's rule and has already gathered 150,000, state television reported.

In 1995, Nazarbayev called and easily won a referendum on extending his term to 2000 from 1996.

A former steelworker who rose to the position of a member of the Soviet Communist Party politburo, Nazarbayev announced in September that he would seek a new term.

Known as "Papa" to Kazakhs, he has overseen more than $150 billion in foreign investment, mainly in oil, gas and metals. Kazakhstan has the world's largest uranium reserves and is home to its biggest oil discovery in 40 years. (Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Peter Graff)

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