Kazakh President Seeks Ruling on Powers After Leaving Office

(Bloomberg) -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who’s ruled the central Asian nation for nearly 30 years, has asked its Constitutional Council to clarify what powers he would hold on leaving office.

Nazarbayev’s request for an “official interpretation of paragraph 3 article 42 of the Constitution” was accepted, the council said in a website statement on Monday. The body is preparing materials for a meeting “at which the merits of the appeal will be considered,” it said, without elaborating.

The relevant article states that “the powers of the President of the Republic shall terminate from the moment the newly-elected President of the Republic takes office as well as in the case of early discharge from office, resignation or death.” The presidential press office didn’t respond to calls requesting comment.

Nazarbayev, 78, has ruled energy-rich Kazakhstan since 1989 and has been its only president since independence in 1991. He was exempted from a constitutional ban on serving more than two consecutive terms in 2007 and parliament voted unanimously to declare him “leader of the nation” for life in 2010, with powers to manage the country after his resignation. Last year, Kazakhstan passed a law making Nazarbayev head of its security council for life with powers to issue executive orders to state bodies.

The longest-serving leader of an ex-Soviet republic was re-elected for a fifth five-year term as president in 2015. Kazakhstan’s Senate Chairman Kassym-Jomart Tokayev cast doubt last year on whether Nazarbayev would seek another term, telling a BBC interviewer “I don’t believe that President Nazarbayev will go to the presidential election in 2020.”

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