Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev has set the date of elections for the lower house of parliament, or Majlis, for January 10, 2021.
The decree, signed on October 21, paves the way for the energy-rich Central Asian country’s first parliamentary elections since Toqaev in 2019 succeeded Nursultan Nazarbaev, who resigned that year after nearly three decades in power.
Nazarbaev still maintains key positions of power, including head of the country’s Security Council and ruling Nur Otan party.
International election observers say that past elections in Kazakhstan have been neither free nor fair, citing electoral fraud, repression of opposition candidates, and restrictions on the freedom of the press.
The 107-seat Majlis is currently dominated by Nazarbaev's Nur Otan party, which has 84 deputies.
The pro-government Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan and the liberal Ak Zhol party each have seven seats.
The remaining nine seats are appointed by the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, an advisory body controlled by Nazarbaev.
The last parliamentary elections were held in March 2016.
Kazakh activists have called for the government to allow independent candidates who are not members of the six officially registered parties to run for parliament.
Kazakhstan Sets January 10 Date For Parliamentary Elections