ASTANA – Kazakhstan is the only country in the geopolitical environment implementing profound reforms that are ushering in a new era of development, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said at the opening of the first session of the Kazakh Parliament of the eighth convocation on March 29, outlining priorities aimed at improving the country’s political system, the Akorda press service reported.
In less than a year, Kazakhstan witnessed five electoral campaigns, including a referendum, which took place during a very responsible period. Despite all the challenges, Kazakhstan was able to pass the most important stage of the country’s life in a short time, Tokayev said.
According to Tokayev, the new composition of the Mazhilis, the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament, reflects an entire spectrum of ideological views. Owing to the large-scale political reforms and the liberalization of legislation governing the registration of parties, an opposition party has entered the Parliament for the first time.
Commenting on the process of the election campaigns held throughout the country, including high competition, strengthened democratic traditions, and equal opportunities for all political parties and candidates, he said the society is approaching a new civil and political culture.
Tokayev focused on the active engagement of the youth in state affairs, welcoming progressive-minded and educated young people with the hope they will bring new values to society.
“Young people should appreciate this as a unique opportunity to work for the good of the country. The country also created conditions for women and persons with special needs to enter the Mazhilis. The election campaign showed that social lifts work and every citizen can be elected to the Parliament. This is how a just and fair society is built,” he said.
In the age of information and advanced technologies, people closely follow processes in the country. Therefore, the responsibility of members of parliament to the country and people has increased significantly, Tokayev noted.
He expressed hope that the newly-elected MPs will demonstrate consciousness and wisdom and work adequately and fruitfully to benefit the country’s interests during the upcoming five years.
Direct elections of regional governors
Tokayev emphasized that the transformation does not end here, and reforms to improve the political system will continue. This year, the country will hold direct elections of akims (governors) of 45 regions and cities of regional significance. After that, elections of district governors will be held nationwide.
“As a result, all the state institutions will begin to work in a new way. … Certain individuals, including politicians, say these reforms could threaten Kazakhstan. However, I am convinced that this transformation is of the utmost importance for the future of our nation,” Tokayev said.
Strengthening the human rights protection system
Tokayev emphasized the need to strengthen the human rights protection system, making the rule of law in all spheres of life a fundamental principle in the country’s progress. He urged the members of Parliament to reinforce the system of protection of the constitutional rights of citizens by bringing the country’s legislation fully in line with the Constitution.
“Another serious problem in the field of human rights protection is human trafficking. To solve this problem, a special law should be adopted,” he said.
Improvement of public administration and strategic planning
Addressing ways to improve public administration and strategic planning, Tokayev urged the MPs to implement their election promises and programs. This will primarily determine the trust of citizens in government institutions and their faith in positive change.
The President noted that civil servants play a vital role in the development and implementation of reforms. It is therefore necessary to attract highly motivated and highly qualified specialists to the civil service.
“The country should move to a more harmonious, decentralized model of public service. We need to address issues immediately without waiting for instructions from above,” he said.
Tokayev recalled the work initiated last year to de-bureaucratize the functions of the public service and the rule-making process. Necessary conditions have been created for the rapid adoption of high-quality laws on the most significant problems. However, real de-bureaucratization is yet to take place, he noted. In this regard, the President said digitalization is a critical factor in improving the effectiveness of the public administration system.
“A digital parliament and maslikhats of all levels can significantly strengthen public confidence in the government,” he said.
Tokayev also raised the issue of the state planning system. Several strategic documents have lost their relevance amid recent unprecedented geopolitical, economic, and technological shifts. Tokayev proposed to revise the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy.
“This document should turn into a document defining a long-term vision and key development priorities for the country, taking into account global trends,” the President said.
Following the meeting, Tokayev encouraged the members of Parliament and the maslikhats to interact as closely as possible to ensure consistency in the implementation of the state policy, excluding populism and promoting personal goals and instead focusing on the interests of the nation.