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Kazakh Women Rally To Demand Benefits, Days Before Snap Presidential Poll

Women Gather At Kazakh President's Palace, Demand Social Reforms
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WATCH: Women Gather At Kazakh President's Palace, Demand Social Reforms

NUR-SULTAN -- Dozens of women have rallied in front of the presidential palace in Kazakhstan's capital, Nur-Sultan, demanding increased social benefits and housing less than a week before a snap presidential election.

The protesters at the June 3 rally urged the government to fulfill its promises to financially support single mothers and families with many children, and provide them with proper housing.

They chanted "Proper housing for our children!" and demanded that Prime Minister Asqar Mamin, interim President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, and former President Nursultan Nazarbaev, who continues to lead the ruling Nur-Otan party, come and speak to them.

Labor and Social Protection Minister Berdybek Saparbaev and other government officials met with the demonstrators and asked them to go into the nearby parliament building, but they refused.

Protests about improper living conditions have been held across the country months after five children from one family died when their home in the capital burned down in early February.

The tragedy occurred while both parents were working overnight shifts to make ends meet. The last such rallies were held in Nur-Sultan on May 16.

The latest demonstration comes six days ahead of an early presidential election scheduled for June 9, which was called after the 78-year-old Nazarbaev resigned in March following almost 30 years in power.

Toqaev, who became interim president, is widely expected to win the upcoming election.

Opponents, critics, and rights groups say Nazarbaev, who tolerated little dissent, denied many citizens basic rights and prolonged his power in the energy-rich country of 18.7 million by manipulating the democratic process.

No vote held in Kazakhstan since 1991 has been deemed free and democratic by international observers.

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