Kazakhstan violent protests; emergency declared, Cabinet resign

Kazakh violent protests; emergency declared, Cabinet resign

Kazakhstan protests; emergency declared, Cabinet resign

Kazakhstan has declared a state of emergency in the capital and parts of the country after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev accepted the government’s resignation on Wednesday. The country is currently seeing violent protests triggered by increasing fuel prices in the oil-rich Central Asian nation. 

Protesters marched towards the centre of Almaty as the news of the government’s resignation failed to calm the growing anger over fuel prices. The thousands of protesters were met by security forces, who fired tear gas and flashbang grenades – but were unable to stop them.

The protesters were armed with clubs and metal bars and were able to storm into the mayor’s office, according to local media. 

State of Emergency

According to Kazakhstan’s business lobby group, its members were reporting cases of attacks on banks, stores and restaurants. And AFP correspondents in Almaty said they witnessed men dressed in police uniform throw down their chiefs and helmets into a pile and embrace the protesters. 

Kazakhstan was widely viewed as a politically stable and controlled nation that attracted hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign investment into its oils and metals industries. But the protests have shaken that image and marked the biggest threat to the regime. 

The president declared a state of emergency in Almaty and the oil-producing Mangistau province early on Wednesday and later it was extended to the capital Nursultan. He accused domestic and foreign provocateurs of being behind the violence. 

Government buildings were also attacked in the southern cities of Shymkent and Taraz overnight – 95 officers were injured in the clashes and more than 200 people were detained, according to the Interior Ministry. 

Price controls reinstated, cabinet resigns 

Protests kicked off in Mangystau province on Sunday after the government lifted price controls on liquefied petroleum gas at the start of the year. Many had already converted their cars to run on LPG because of its low cost. 

The president ordered the acting cabinet members and provincial governors on Wednesday to reinstate LPG price control and broaden them to gasoline, diesel and other “socially important” consumer goods. He has also ordered the government to develop a personal bankruptcy law and consider freezing utilities’ prices and subsidising rent payments for poor families. 

Kazakhstan is an emerging and developing economy and like many of this status, it has grappled with rising price pressures in recent years. The country saw inflation closing in on 9% year-on-year late last year – its highest in more than 5 years – forcing the central bank to raise interest rates to 9.75%. 

Kazakhstan is crucial to Russia and its founding president is a close ally of President Vladimir Putin. In a statement on Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry said it was “closely following the events in the brotherly neighbouring country”, urging a “peaceful solution” to its problems through dialogue.


Kazakhstan president

Kassym-Jomart Kemelevich Tokayev is a Kazakh politician and diplomat who is currently serving as the President of Kazakhstan since 20 March 2019.

Kazakhstan protests

 

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