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Kazakh President Merges Party With Daughter's

Darigha Nazarbaeva (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) July 4, 2006 -- Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev has merged his party with the party of his eldest daughter, Darigha.

The move is seen as a tightening of Nazarbaev's grip on power and an end to his daughter's ambitions for political independence.

The merger of Nazarbaev's Otan party and Darigha Nazarbaeva's Asar creates a ruling party with 700,000 members.

Nazabaev will remain chairman of the new party, which will keep Otan's name, Darigha will be one of his three deputies.

"The idea of our two parties merging was prompted by the demands of the current time," Darigha Nazarbaeva said. "We have passed through various complicated stages in which it has become clear who is weaker and who is stronger. Thanks to our coalition we have managed to keep our society safe from 'colored' disorders. Now we should accomplish together what we started together."

Nazarbaeva, who is also a lawmaker and media mogul, has angered her father by using a row over the killing of opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbaev to attack some of her father's allies.

Nazarbaev has ruled Kazakhstan for 17 years. He was reelected to a new seven-year term in a December election that was criticized by Western observers as flawed.


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