Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has called for an early presidential election, after saying he would not hold a referendum on whether to extend his rule until 2020. No date has been set for the election.
Nazarbayev's current mandate is due to expire in 2012
Speaking on live on state television Monday, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev called for early elections and said he would not hold a referendum to extend his rule until 2020.
"As the head of state, I have to assume the whole weight of a historic responsibility," the 70-year-old said in an address to the nation.
"I cannot set the wrong precedent for future politicians. I have taken the decision not to hold the referendum. I propose holding an early presidential election, despite the fact that this will reduce my current term in office by almost two years," he said.
Earlier in the day, Kazakhstan's constitutional court rejected as unconstitutional a parliamentary plan to lengthen his rule until 2020.
On Friday, Nazarbayev announced during his annual state of the union address that he planned to stand for election in 2012 should the referendum initiative, which he has publicly opposed, be rejected.
The referendum plan raised tensions with the United States, which said the move would be a setback for democracy
Known as "Papa" to many Kazakhs, Nazarbayev has led Kazakhstan since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. More than half of Kazakhstan's 9 million registered voters signed a petition calling for the referendum to extend his time in office until 2020.
Author: Sarah Harman (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler