Almaty, 25 November 1998 (RFE/RL) - Former Kazakh Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin today vowed not to quit politics despite the country's Supreme Court decision barring him from running in next January's presidential poll. Kazhegeldin said he planned to create a new political party and that he would travel around the country in search of support for establishing what he called a democratic system of government in Kazakhstan.
Yesterday, the Kazakh Supreme Court upheld an earlier lower court guilty verdict against Kazkhegeldin for attending an illegal political gathering. Under Kazakh law, a convicted person cannot run for president.
Kazhegeldin was seen as the strongest challenger of President Nursultan Nazarbayev in the January election. A spokesman for Kazhegeldin called yesterday's Supreme Court ruling a "black day for Kazakh democracy."
Another contender for the election, Karishal Assanov, yesterday denounced Nazarbayev for using all state mechanisms and the media for his own pre-election campaign while other candidates were deprived of those opportunities.
Today, an official of the Central Electoral Commission said the commission had so far officially registered only Nazarbayev for the poll because he had collected the required 170,000 signatures and paid the required fee of about $30,000. The deadline for registering candidates expires on Monday.