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Kazakhstan votes to amend constitution in referendum

Ballot could be seen as rehearsal for President Tokayev's bid to win second term

Members of a local electoral commission organize ballot papers at a polling station in Nur-Sultan after polls closed during a constitutional referendum on June 5.   © Reuters

NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) -- Voters in Kazakhstan supported constitutional amendments proposed by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in a referendum, the Central Election Commission said on Monday.

Tokayev has promoted the reform as a foundation for a new social contract in the oil-rich Central Asian country allied with Russia, and analysts say the vote could be seen as a rehearsal for his bid to win a second term as president.

The commission said that 77.18% of votes in the Sunday referendum were in favor of the amendments, which decentralize decision-making and strip former leader Nursultan Nazarbayev of his "national leader" status. Turnout was 68.06%.

Tokayev proposed the reform package after putting down a coup attempt amid deadly unrest in January and removing his former patron Nazarbayev and his relatives from important positions in the public sector.

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