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Kazakh President Promises Democratic Vote --> President Nazarbaev (file photo) 1 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev today promised to ensure that the country's upcoming presidential elections will be free and fair.

Speaking to parliament in the capital Astana, Nazarbaev also said he plans to set up and chair a state commission to draft a program of democratic reforms.

On 30 August, Nazarbaev warned against making "hasty" political reforms in Kazakhstan. He said unprepared radical political reforms could destabilize the economic, social, and political fabric of the country.

Washington has urged Nazarbaev to follow up economic achievements with democratic reforms.

Rights advocates accuse Nazarbaev of persecuting dissidents and the media.

Nazarbaev, who has ruled Kazakhstan since 1990, says he is seeking another seven-year term in office in the 4 December elections.

(Interfax/AP/Kazakhstan Today)

See also:

"Kazakh President Shows He's Ready For Reelection Campaign"

"Can Opposition Compete In Kazakh Presidential Election?"