Kazakhstan's Constitutional Council announced today (19 August) that the country will hold early presidential elections on 4 December. The decision puts an end to a long-standing controversy between pro-government and opposition politicians in the Central Asian nation over the timing of the vote. Observers say the decision means a likely reelection for incumbent Nursultan Nazarbaev, as it leaves potential challengers with little time to prepare.
The Senate today was in the process of being selected by regional and local officials and Nazarbaev himself, with no popular voting involved. Otan candidates were expected to make up a majority of the seats, and no opposition candidates were in the running.
Experts say Nazarbaev is likely to win the early December poll, as his popularity remains high. The Kazakh parliament abolished presidential term limits in October 1998. If he wins, this would be Nazarbaev's third term in office.
Observers say Kazakh authorities have led a widescale campaign aimed at weakening the political opposition.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
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