The votes in the referendum in Kazakhstan have been counted: around 80 percent of voters are in favor of constitutional changes to weaken presidential power.

Five months after heavy protests, the population of the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan in Central Asia passed a referendum by a large majority on constitutional amendments to weaken presidential power.

77.17 percent of voters voted for the changes, compared to 18.66 percent, said the head of Kazakhstan’s electoral commission, Nurlan Abdirov, according to the Russian news agency Interfax. Voter turnout was officially 68.06 percent.

Among other things, the constitution now prohibits relatives of the president from holding high government offices in Kazakhstan. The regulation affects both the incumbent President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev. The referendum will also strip the latter of the honorary title of Elbassy – “leader of the nation” – which in the past gave him political influence even after his resignation.

At the beginning of January, violent social and later also political protests and riots broke out in the ex-Soviet republic. These were crushed. According to media reports, the violent clashes have claimed more than 200 lives. To combat the unrest, troops from the Russian-dominated military alliance OKVS (Collective Security Council Organization), among others, were briefly deployed to Kazakhstan.