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Kazakh Opposition Parties Call On Candidates To Force Poll Delay

Two Kazakh opposition parties have called on the three rival candidates to incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbaev to force a delay in next month's presidential election by withdrawing from the race, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The call was made in a joint statement today by the Communist Party and the unregistered opposition Algha (Forward) party.

The aim is to buy some time for several presidential hopefuls who said they didn't have enough time to gather the 91,000 signatures of support needed to register their candidacies.

The two parties called the April 3 snap election yet another attempt by those in power to prolong their legitimacy by extra-constitutional measures with the active support of the parliament.

They said that according to Article 61 of the Law on Elections, the ballot must be postponed by up to two months in the event that fewer than two candidates remain on the ballot paper.

On March 2, Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission (OSK) said it had registered four candidates.

They are Nazarbaev; Zhambyl Akhmetbekov of the pro-Nazarbaev Communist People's Party; Mels Eleusizov, leader of the Tabighat (Nature) ecological union; and Patriots Party leader Ghani Qasymov. The latter three all openly support Nazarbaev.

Qasymov managed to pass the mandatory Kazakh language examination even though he cannot speak the language. Several other would-be candidates were refused registration after they failed the test.

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