Kazakhstan dissolves parliament
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - The Associated Press
Kazakhstan’s President Nazarbayev walks past flags in this file photo. REUTERS photoKazakhstan’s president issued a decree yesterday to dissolve parliament and call a snap election that will end the governing party’s monopolistic grip over the legislature.
Under a new election law, a minimum of two parties will enter parliament after the Jan. 15 polls, although no robust anti-government forces are believed to stand any real prospect of winning seats. President Nursultan Nazarbayev said at a government meeting Nov. 15 that the election should be brought forward, it was originally scheduled for August 2012, to avoid the campaigning season coinciding with an anticipated global economic downturn.
Kazakhstan has undertaken concerted efforts to project itself as a dynamic emerging economy, but its one-party parliament has long been a source of embarrassment and the subject of international criticism. Despite the apparent efforts to broaden representation in parliament, few believe any genuine opposition parties will win seats. The Central Asian nation, which shares long borders with both Russia and China, has never held an election deemed free and fair by international observers.
Nazarbayev, a 71-year old former Communist party boss who has led his country with an iron fist since independence in 1991, was earlier this year re-elected for a new five-year term with 95.6 percent of the vote. All real power lies in his hands and parliament serves in effect as a rubber stamp body.