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Kazakh Lawmakers Urge Nazarbaev To Set Early Presidential Poll Date

ASTANA -- Kazakhstan's lower chamber of parliament has urged President Nursultan Nazarbaev to set a date for an early presidential election.

The Mazhilis, which is dominated by the ruling Nur-Otan party, voted 104-0 on February 18 to back a proposal for Nazarbaev to seek reelection this year.

The upper chamber is expected to also back the proposal later.

The presidential election had been scheduled for 2016.

But the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, a constitutional body chaired by Nazarbaev. proposed on February 14 that the vote be held this year.

The assembly said an early election would be crucial to "ensure the continuity of the current policy" and to strengthen the economy.

It also said Nazarbaev needs another term to steer Kazakhstan through the ongoing economic crisis.

Nazarbaev, 74, has ruled the oil-rich country since 1989.