Kazakhstan’s parliament has voted unanimously in favour of a referendum on extending President Nazarbayev’s term in office.
A yes vote would allow the veteran leader to avoid a planned presidential election next year, and remain in charge of Central Asia’s largest economy until 2020.
Nazarbayev himself was against the idea, saying he would prefer re-election. But parliament has over-ruled him after a petition in favour of a referendum reportedly brought five million signatures, more than half the electorate.
Kazakhstan’s opposition and the US have described the move as a setback for democracy.
Nazarbayev is the only leader the people of the former Soviet republic have known. There has been concern at the lack of a plan of succession.