Kazakh Politician M. Taizhan: Apparently, Tokayev Is Not Going To Implement Promised Reforms – OpEd


Strange as it may seem, the level of belief in Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s reform policy in Kazakhstan itself turns out to be much lower than abroad. As a consequence, a strange situation develops: a number of the Russian and Western media and their authors, as well as some Russian and Western political and economic experts seek to convince not only the Russian and Western audiences, but also even the very Kazakhstani ones in official Astana’s being genuinely committed to democratic reforms. So let’s look at examples of how it is being done.

EU Reporter, in an article entitled ‘Tokayev leads Kazakhstan to democracy and equality’, made the following observations: “On September 1, 2022, the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev delivered the State-of-the-Nation address. He announced the upcoming political and economic reforms in Kazakhstan. The Head of state proposed to limit the presidential mandate to one term of seven years without the possibility of re-election. Also, Tokayev announced an amnesty for the participants of the tragic «January events» in his country. In general, this appeal marked a new stage in the political life of Kazakhstan. K.Tokayev was not a communist ideologically and had never been a member of the Communist Party… The successive reforms of K.Tokayev strengthen the influence of Parliament and limits the power of the President of the state in the political and economic life of society”.

And here is what Nina Linde, director of the Institute of Economic Sciences of the Latvian Academy of Science and, according to AniNews, one of Europe’s most renowned economists, said: “The experts of our Institute believe that the Head of State’s (i.e. Tokayev’s) Address [on September 1] includes very ambitious political and socio-economic reforms focused on promoting the long-term and sustainable development of the country. The reforms detailed in the Address set a new historical course for the development of Kazakhstan and stimulate the achievement of high results”.

According to José María Chiquillo Barber, a Spanish politician, ‘after having become Head of State, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev not only announced but also implemented a series of important political reforms, the significance of which, I guess, has not yet been fully appreciated in the European Union’

“What impresses me is that the President of Kazakhstan speaks about all this directly and openly, without trying to disguise the problems of the past, which must be effectively addressed”, he added.

There are many other similar examples that can be cited, too. But there is not much use in quoting them all. It’s easy to talk like this about Tokayev’s reforms in Kazakhstan, when you live abroad. As they say, all of this is too good to be true. So let’s now take a look at what the Kazakhs themselves have to say about those reforms.

Mukhtar Taizhan, a well-known Kazakh public figure, politician and economist: “He [Kassym-Jomart Tokayev] has two more years of his presidency, compliant parliament, and he’s got some kind of trust from the people. If he had carried out the reforms needed by the [national] economy over these two years, the people would have re-elected him without problems in 2024. Apparently, he knows that there will be no more such trust in two years from now, and he will not be re-elected. This means that he [really] is not going to carry out the reforms that he promised”.

Serik Ziat, a teacher from Kyzylorda: “At one time, Nazarbayev also started out this way… Many understand that this is the same story. Yet so far no genuine political party has been created. I worry that there will be no fairness in the elections again”.

Dimash Alzhanov, a political analyst: “There can be no talk of any strengthening of the parliament. This is a fiction. Parliament remains dependent on the president. The constitutional changes had no political content and were imitative… The democratizing process by Tokayev should be treated in the same way as the constitutional reform by Lukashenka. Here in Kazakhstan, observes are unpleasantly surprised to see how Russian journalists and experts alike are praising Tokayev without understanding the essence of what is happening”.

As may be seen above, Russian journalists and experts are far from being alone in actively praising Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and his democratic reforms.

Akhas Tazhutov

Akhas Tazhutov is a political analyst from Kazakhstan.

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