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Kazakh President Says Elections Needed In Restive City

A billboard with a picture of President Nursultan Nazarbaev in Zhanaozen was set on fire during the riot on December 16.
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev has vetoed a decision to cancel parliamentary elections in the western city of Zhanaozen.

Nazarbaev said in a statement released by his office that the decision by the Constitutional Council to cancel parliamentary elections scheduled for January 15 in a city where violence broke out last month would limit the rights of citizens there.

The Constitutional Council ruled on January 6 that since Zhanaozen was still under a curfew following the violence it would be impossible to conduct elections there while ensuring voters' safety.

Zhanaozen was one of the cities in western Kazakhstan where oil workers had been on strike for months.

On December 16, Kazakhstan's Independence Day, fighting broke out between protesters and police that left 16 people dead and some 100 injured.

Videos taken by residents of the city appeared to show police firing on fleeing protesters and the Prosecutor-General's Office has opened an investigation into police conduct.

compiled from agency reports