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Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called for snap presidential elections, aiming to extend his rule and implement a series of reforms in the oil-rich Central Asian nation, Al Jazeera reported.
The election date is set to take place on Nov. 20 and comes shortly after Kazakhstan approved a series of constitutional amendments, including one extending the president’s term from five to seven years.
The November polls – which Tokayev is expected to win – will cut his current term but give him a longer second one. Even so, the constitutional amendments would bar any president from running for a second term, according to the Associated Press.
Tokayev implemented a number of reforms in Kazakhstan earlier this month, including raising the minimum wage by 17 percent and other handouts.
Analysts believe that the early polls reduce the risks of an economic downturn and a loss of public support amid geopolitical uncertainty in the post-Soviet region.
Tokayev came to power in 2019, after his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev stepped down and handpicked him as his successor. Nazarbayev, who had ruled the country since its independence in 1991, initially remained a powerful figure in Kazakhstan.
But Tokayev stripped Nazarbayev of his top positions following riots in January that stemmed partly from dissatisfaction with the power that the former ruler and his family still wielded.
Tokayev has further distanced himself from his predecessor and Kazakh authorities have arrested a number of Nazarbayev’s relatives and business associates. The detained individuals have returned hundreds of millions of dollars to the state which the authorities say they had gained illegally.