Residents of a mutinous Kazakh oil town will be excluded from a parliamentary election this month due to a state of emergency imposed after the deadliest riots in the Central Asian state for decades, the Central Election Commission said on Friday. The cancellation of elections in Zhanaozen, where at least 16 people were killed last month in clashes between protesters and riot police, will effectively deny a voice to around 50,000 potential voters in the Jan. 15 election.
“This decision can only be based on fear that the party in power would receive absolutely nothing in a real vote,” said political analyst Aidos Sarym. “Fearing any kind of surprise, and aware that the population is embittered and negatively inclined toward the authorities, the powers-that-be have simply decided to exclude this region.”
The violence in western Kazakhstan has posed the biggest threat to the image of stability cultivated by Nursultan Nazarbayev in over two decades as president, a period in which he has prized economic growth and market reforms over democracy.
Nazarbayev secured five more years as president by winning 96 percent of the vote in an April 2011 election. The parliamentary vote, brought forward from August, was designed to add a democratic veneer to Central Asia’s biggest economy.
Full Article: Kazakhstan cancels vote in troubled oil town | Reuters.