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Presidential Campaigning Begins In Kazakhstan

Presidential candidate Zharmakhan Tuyakbai (file photo) (RFE/RL) Astana, 26 October 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakh presidential candidates today officially started their election campaigns.

Five candidates are running in the race. The two main candidates are incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, head of the pro-democracy opposition For a Just Kazakhstan bloc.

Nazarbaev has been ruling this vast, sparsely populated and oil-rich country since Soviet times. He has been elected president twice and once extended his term through a referendum. All of those elections were criticized as undemocratic. One of the elections was unexpectedly held two years early.

Kazakhstan's presidential election is scheduled for 4 December. Election campaigning is expected to end a few days before voters go to the polls.

(RFE/RL Kazakh Service)