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The drive for a “New Kazakhstan” in the wake of the violence has come from the man that Nazarbayev hand-picked to replace him as president in 2019, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Almaty:

Kazakhstan is holding a referendum Sunday to overhaul its constitution after deadly unrest in January ended founding leader Nursultan Nazarbayev’s three-decade grip on Central Asia’s richest country.

The bloodshed, which grew out of peaceful protests over a spike in car fuel prices — left more than 230 people dead and prompted authorities to call in troops from a Russia-led security bloc.

The drive for a “New Kazakhstan” in the wake of the violence has come from the man that Nazarbayev hand-picked to replace him as president in 2019, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Tokayev, 69, describes the snap referendum as a shift from “super-presidential” rule that will strengthen parliament.

But it is the absence of special privileges for 81-year-old Nazarbayev that is the most eye-catching change to the constitution.

Prior to January’s crisis, Tokayev was widely seen as ruling in the shadow of Nazarbayev and his super-rich relatives.

Even after stepping down as president, Nazarbayev retained the constitutional title of “Elbasy”, or “Leader of the Nation” — a role that afforded him influence over policymaking regardless of his formal position.

The new constitution does away with that status.

Another amendment prevents relatives of the president from holding government positions — a clear nod to the influence of Nazarbayev’s family and in-laws, who lost powerful positions in the aftermath of the violence.

‘Never any justice’

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