Kazakhstan’s constitutional council has rejected a referendum to extend its leader’s rule until 2020.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev has been head of Central Asia’s largest economy for over 20 years. The 70-year-old leader has a month to appeal the decision. However, in his state of the union address last week, he said that should the vote be rejected, he would stand for election in 2012.
Parliament voted unanimously for the poll but the Kazakh Council ruled it would “contradict the basic principles of democracy.”
More than half of Kazakhstan’s nine million registered voters also signed a petition in favour of a referendum.
President Nazarbayev has led the oil and gas-rich nation since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.