Kazakhstan's parliament on Friday voted unanimously in favor of a referendum to extend the rule of long-standing leader Nursultan Nazarbayev until 2020, bypassing the 2012 election.
"This decision was backed by 44 out of 44 senators and 106 out of 106 deputies of the lower house," lower house speaker Ural Mukhamedzhanov said.
The move means that Nazarbayev's 20-year rule will be extended by another decade and makes it impossible for Nazarbayev to veto the legislation according to Kazakh law.
The idea of a referendum was given the green light by the Kazakh Central Election Commission in December.
"Now the president will either sign [the amendments to the Constitution] or send [these amendments] to the referendum," the commission's chief, Kuandyk Turgankulov, told reporters.
"We are waiting for a decision from the leader," he said, adding that Nazarbayev "is not pressed for time."
A public petition for the referendum has already gotten more than five million signatures. By law, at least 200,000 signatures are needed.
The parliament has already amended the country's Constitution to allow the 70-year-old leader to run for re-election indefinitely.
Nazarbayev has had a tight grip on the Central Asian state since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
ASTANA, January 14 (RIA Novosti)