Photo: Kazakh President Tokayev addresses Parliament and Government on 2 September 2019. Source: Kazakh Permanent Mission to the UN in New York. - Photo: 2019

New Kazakh President Envisions Gradual ‘Transformation’

By Ramesh Jaura

BERLIN | NUR-SULTAN (IDN) – The Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has accentuated the need of “constructive public dialogue” which he defines as “the basis of stability and prosperity” of the country and elaborated wide-ranging plans engulfing all sectors: political, social and economic. In his first major speech nearly three months after bagging about 71 percent of the vote in June elections – contested by seven candidates – he declared: “We are approaching the important part in the newest history of our country”.

“Approximately thirty years ago, we proclaimed our independence thus fulfilling the dream that our ancestors had for centuries,” he recalled, adding: “Since that time, under the leadership of the First President of Kazakhstan – the Leader of the Nation Nursultan Nazarbayev – our country has become a stable and reputable state in the world.”

Explaining the programme, Tokayev declared on September 2 that the achievements of Kazakhstan’s independence since 1991 – after the collapse of the Soviet Union – will be amplified bringing the country to “a qualitatively new stage of development” by the full implementation of the ‘Five Institutional Reforms’ and the ‘Plan of the Nation’ developed by Nazarbayev. The work of the National Modernisation Commission that he created will be resumed.

The five planks are: building a “modern effective state”; “ensuring rights and security of citizens”; “developed and inclusive economy”; “new stage of social modernisation”; and “strong regions – strong country”.

The crux of the plan is to move towards “political transformation”. And this “gradually and steadily” by “taking into account the interests of our state and people” – without “running ahead of ourselves”, but “consistently, persistently and thoughtfully”. The fundamental principle, Tokayev said, is that “successful economic reforms are no longer possible without the modernisation of the country’s socio-political life”.

A strong president, an influential Parliament and an accountable government: this, he said, is not a fait accompli, but a goal towards which to move at an accelerated pace.

While this formula of the political system is the basis of state stability, the plan is also to implement the concept of the “Listening State”, which quickly and efficiently responds to all constructive citizen requests. Since a harmonious state can be built only through a constant dialogue between the government and society, Tokayev said, “it is necessary to maintain and strengthen civil society, to involve it in the discussion of the most urgent national tasks in order to solve them”.

It is for this purpose that the National Council of Public Trust, representative in composition, was created, which will work on a rotational principle.

In the near future, the following measures will be implemented: continuing the process of party building and cooperating with other political parties and movements that pursue a constructive policy for the benefit of society. Until now, the Nur Otan party, headed by Nazarbayev, has been “consistently carrying out the difficult and responsible mission of the country’s leading political force”.

As Head of State, Tokayev said, he sees his task as “contributing to the development of a multi-party system, political competition and pluralism of opinions in the country” because he considers it important for the stability of the political system in the long run.

The upcoming elections to the Mazhilis of Parliament and maslikhats should contribute to the further development of the multi-party system in the country, he added.

As part of an effective citizen feedback, public dialogue, openness, quick response to the needs of people are the main priorities for the activities of state bodies. With this in view, a department has been created in the Presidential Administration that will monitor the quality of reviewing citizens’ requests by state bodies and take prompt measures on them.

Often people are forced to turn to the president because of the “deafness” and closed-off national and local officials. Repeated complaints about the unfairness of decisions in a particular area mean systemic problems in a particular government agency or region. “Now this should be viewed in this way, and appropriate actions should be taken.”

In order to increase the efficiency of the work of civil servants, Tokayev considers it necessary to attract trained young personnel into their ranks. At the same time, starting in 2020, a gradual reduction in the number of civil servants will begin, and the released funds used to provide material incentives for the most useful staff. By 2024, the number of civil servants and employees of national companies is to be reduced by 25 percent.

As another important step, the legislation on rallies will be improved. Tokayev pointed out that according to the Constitution, citizens have the right to freedom of expression.

He added: “If peaceful protests do not pursue the goal of violating the law and the peace of citizens, then they should be embraced and given approval for them to be carried out in the manner prescribed by law, to allocate special places for this. And not in the outskirts of cities. But any calls for unconstitutional and hooligan actions will be dealt with within the framework of the law.”

Also, the public consensus will be strengthened in view of the fact that the harmony between social and ethnic groups is the result of the joint work of the whole society. He considers it necessary, therefore, to analyse political tendencies and take concrete measures to strengthen unity. “The unity of the nation is in its diversity!”

This will involve taking into account the role of the Kazakh people as a nation-building people, to continue building inter-ethnic concord and inter-religious understanding.

While continuing to provide conditions for the development of languages and cultures of all ethnic groups in Kazakhstan, the role of the Kazakh language as a state language will grow and the time will come when it becomes a language of interethnic communication. “But, to reach this level, what is needed is not loud statements, but our common work. In addition, it must be remembered that language is an instrument of big politics,” Tokayev said.

Besides, the image of non-governmental organisations in the creation of an active civil society will need to be enhanced. “Therefore, in the near future, we need to elaborate and adopt the Concept of Civil Society Development until 2025.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 09 October 2019]

Photo: Kazakh President Tokayev addresses Parliament and Government on 2 September 2019. Source: Kazakh Permanent Mission to the UN in New York.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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