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Kazakh President Dissolves Parliament, Calls Early Elections

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev
Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev has dissolved the lower house of parliament and called early parliamentary elections for January 15-16.

The presidential order was issued after 53 lawmakers out of 107 in the Mazhilis in a petition last week called for the body to be dissolved and replaced with a multiparty legislature.

They also suggested the installation of a new parliament to deal with possible fresh economic turmoil.

Currently, all seats in the legislature are held by the ruling Nur Otan party. But new changes to the electoral law will permit the second-placed party in the next elections to gain entry to parliament, even if it falls short of the 7 percent threshold that automatically guarantees seats.

The next legislative elections had been due in the summer of 2012. According to the presidential order, the election from party lists will be held on January 15.

It said other deputies will be chosen by the People's Assembly, a consultative body loyal to Nazarbaev, on January 16.

The presidential order was published on November 16 in the official gazette "Kazakhstanskaya pravda."

Kazakshtan has never held an election judged free and fair by international monitors.

compiled from agency reports