Germany slams 'undemocratic' Kazakhstan
Germany criticised sharply on Friday moves to enable Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to rule uncontested until 2020, calling them undemocratic.
"Kazakhstan has just completed its presidency of the OSCE with a summit in the Kazakh capital Astana that confirmed the principles of democracy and good governance," Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
"Such an extension of the president's time in office by 10 years contradicts exactly these principles of democracy and good governance," Seibert told a regular government briefing in Berlin.
Kazakhstan's parliament decided on Friday to hold a referendum on prolonging Nazarbayev's rule by skipping elections in 2012 and 2017, and a "yes" vote in the referendum is seen as a foregone conclusion.
The United States has also criticised the move.
The president has ruled Kazakhstan for its entire history as an independent state and will turn 80 in 2020. If still in power then, he will have ruled Kazakhstan for three decades.
Critics say that Kazakhstan has become an authoritarian state under his rule, with official media slavishly loyal and opposition activists subject to harassment and even imprisonment.
Despite such qualms it hosted the first Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit in over a decade in December and is also gearing up to host the Asian Winter Games early this year.
© 2011 AFP