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Rice Calls For Free, Fair Elections In Kazakhstan

Secretary Rice speaking to President Nazarbaev today in Astana 13 October 2005 -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today said in a speech in Kazakhstan that economic development goes hand in hand with democratization, and reiterated the importance of free and fair elections.

Rice, speaking at the Eurasian University of Astana, said "stability requires legitimacy and true legitimacy requires democracy." She said it is "critical" that elections be free and fair, and that it is "extremely important" for the opposition to be able to mobilize "free of intimidation of any kind."

Rice's speech comes as Kazakhstan is preparing for a 4 December presidential election.

Rice later met with President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who is seeking another seven-year term in the vote.

Ahead of Rice's arrival, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported that Kazakh security forces yesterday detained Tolen Tokhtasynov, a prominent opposition figure. Rice had been scheduled to meet with him.

Rice, who is on a regional tour, is due to travel later today to Tajikistan.

(RFE/RL's Kazakh Service/AFP/AP)

See also:

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Kyrygzstan: U.S. Secretary Of State Rice Talks To RFE/RL

Kyrgyzstan: U.S. Secretary of State Calls For Closer Ties