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Kazakh Lawmakers Defend Call For Parliament's Dissolution

Kazakhstan's parliament in May 2010 approved constitutional amendments granting President Nursultan Nazarbaev the status of "leader of the nation."
Kazakhstan's parliament in May 2010 approved constitutional amendments granting President Nursultan Nazarbaev the status of "leader of the nation."
ASTANA -- Kazakh parliament members are denying opposition claims that the proposed dissolution of the lower house of parliament was ordered by President Nursultan Nazarbaev, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Deputy Nurtai Sabilyanov announced on November 10 that 53 members of the lower house, or Mazhilis, had signed a petition to dissolve the lower chamber and delivered it to Nazarbaev.

Lawmaker Darya Klebanova, who signed the petition, told RFE/RL on November 11 that the measure was prompted by "internal understanding of the present political situation."

Deputy Aygul Solovyova said she was not on the list of petition signatories simply due to a "shortage of time."

Solovyova said she agreed with the petition's argument that dissolution would help to focus on the world economic crisis in 2012 rather than on holding parliamentary elections, which are due to be held in the spring.

Kazakhstan's lower house of parliament is made up entirely of members of the ruling Nur-Otan party led by Nazarbaev. Opposition parties don't hold a single seat.

Mazhilis member Vladimir Nekhoroshev, who signed the petition, told RFE/RL there has long been speculation about dissolving parliament. He said he received a call on November 9 with a proposal to support the petition and immediately gave his consent.

Nekhoroshev declined to name the individual who called him and rejected suggestions that it was someone from Nazarbayev's administration. Nekhoroshev added that the idea to dissolve parliament had come from the deputies themselves.

The leader of the pro-presidential Auyl (Village) party, Gani Kaliev, said that since the parliament consists of one party, the measure was agreed. He added that his party will take part in the next parliamentary elections.

The leader of the pro-presidential Patriots Party, Senator Gani Kasymov, said he does not agree with the Mazhilis arguments for dissolution. He said the petition did not make a single reference to the people who voted for the deputies. He said that the Nur-Otan party has thereby demonstrated its "weakness and need for help."

The former head of the opposition Communist Party, Serikbolsyn Abdildin, said he believes the dissolution was ordered by the president's office. He said Nazarbaev has practiced parliament dissolution throughout his presidency.

Abdildin added that the deputies were not elected by the people but appointed by Nazarbaev. He said that Kazakhstan has only one law and the law's name is Nazarbaev.

Under Kazakh law, Nazarbaev can initiate an early election upon request from parliamentarians and has the authority to dissolve parliament after consultations with the prime minister and the heads of the bicameral legislature.

The Communists and at least one other possible challenger party have been sidelined by legal actions and are thus prevented from running in an early vote.

Read more in Russian here and in Kazakh here

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