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Kazakh President's Allies Propose Early Election

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev (file photo)

An influential organization chaired by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has proposed an early presidential election.

The Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan said on February 14 that an early election is crucial to "ensure the continuity of the current policy" and to strengthen the economy.

The next election is scheduled for 2016, but the assembly is proposing that it be held this year.

The assembly also said Nazarbaev needs another term to steer Kazakhstan through the ongoing economic crisis.

The deputy head of the Assembly, Anatoly Bashmakov, said an early election would also end speculation about Nazarbaev's possible successor.

"Behind-the-scenes games are beginning -- there are those who are getting ready to become the successor and those who are grooming their own proteges," Bashmakov said.

Nazarbaev wasn't present at the assembly gathering, and there was no immediate comment from his office.

Nazarbaev, 74, has ruled the oil-rich country since 1989 when it was still a Soviet republic.

Kazakhstan declared independence with Nazarbaev at the helm in 1991.

With reporting by Reuters and Interfax
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