Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Tuesday overturned a decision to cancel parliamentary elections in the mutinous oil town where deadly riots have posed the biggest threat to stability in the ex-Soviet republic since independence 20 years ago. By vetoing the Constitutional Council’s decision, Nazarbayev will allow residents of Zhanaozen to participate in a Jan. 15 vote designed to give Kazakhstan a democratic veneer by admitting a second party to the lower house of parliament.
Later on Tuesday election officials barred two prominent opposition figures from their own party’s candidate list. The president’s office said Nazarbayev did not want the residents of Zhanaozen, near the Caspian Sea, to be denied their constitutional rights.
“The president of Kazakhstan took into account the disquiet and concern of Zhanaozen’s residents at the fact their electoral rights were limited by the Constitutional Council’s decision,” the presidential administration said in a statement.