02/16/2015, 00.00
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Astana, ruling party calls for early Presidential election

An early election, before the end of President Nazarbayev’s mandate (2016), would reconfirm the leader who has ruled the country for 26 years and eliminate any speculation about his succession.

Astana (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The ruling party of President Nursultan Nazarbayev has expressed support for the so-called "people's initiative" to hold early presidential elections, paving the way for the confirmation of the power of the long-term Kazakh leader for another five years. "We believe that the initiative to hold early presidential elections is the correct decision, in full compliance with the interests of the nation and the people", reads an official statement from the Nur Otan party.

The stance stems from the fact that the People's Assembly (constitutional body, chaired by the same Nazarbayev, representing the ethnic groups of the country) has proposed bringing the vote forward to this year and not in 2016, as planned, to allow the President to lead Kazakhstan, through the economic difficulties caused by the decline in oil prices and the crisis in Russia.

Nazarbayev was elected with almost 96% of the vote in 2011 and his five-year term ends next year. A former mill worker, the 74 year old leader has been at the helm of the nation since 1989, when he was appointed secretary of the local Communist Party. His leadership has been characterized by repression of all dissent and the absence of any political opposition. His probable re-election in early elections would put an end to speculation about his succession.

Zagipa Baliyev, Nur Otan deputy leader, explained to the press that in accordance with the Constitution a presidential decree announcing the election date is now expected. The Presidency has not commented officially. Called "leader of the nation," the president, according to the law, has no limits in terms of mandates.

Criticized by the West and by human rights organizations for his authoritarian methods, the Kazakh leader, however, has also promoted internal reforms that have led to an increase in foreign direct investment (over 170 billion dollars), in what has become the largest economy in central Asia and helped to maintain social peace and to curb extremism in a Muslim majority country of 17 million inhabitants. (N / A.)



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