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Kazakh Presidential Hopefuls Meet In Televised Debate

Zharmakhan Tukakbai (in file photo) accused the current administration of widespread corruption (RFE/RL) 18 November 2005 -- Four of the five presidential candidates participated in a nationally televised debate on 17 November in which the four sought to close the considerable gap between themselves and incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbaev, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

President Nazarbaev, who was on an official visit to Ukraine and who is widely expected to dominate polling, did not take part.

Several of the presidential hopefuls devoted considerable attention to the theme of corruption.

The participants were Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, from the opposition bloc For a Just Kazakhstan; Alikhan Baimenov, from the opposition party Ak Zhol (Bright Path); Erasyl Abylkasymov, from the Communist People's Party of Kazakhstan; and lawyer and environmentalist Mels Eleusizov.

Tuyakbai charged that under Nazarbaev, poverty and unemployment are increasing as a result of "theft, corruption, injustice, and the arbitrariness of those who are in the governmental system." Tuyakbai also called for an investigation into allegations that Nazarbaev received bribes to arrange oil contracts through American consultant James Giffen -- who is currently awaiting trial in the United States -- in what has been dubbed Kazakhgate.

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

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