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Amid Pressure From Authorities, New Kazakh Opposition Party Cancels Founding Congress

Zhanbolat Mamai (center) and other members of the Democratic Party of Kazakhstan talk to reporters in Almaty on February 19.

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The Democratic Party of Kazakhstan, a newly created opposition party, has cancelled its founding congress amid pressure imposed by law enforcement authorities against supporters and activists across the country, a party leader said.

Party founder Zhanbolat Mamai told reporters in Almaty on February 19 that, instead of attending the congress, supporters will rally in Almaty on February 22 to challenge the pressure imposed on party supporters and to demand democratic reforms in Kazakhstan

"There is no way to hold a founding congress for our party when our supporters are being detained en masse and facing oppressive measures by the authorities," Mamai said.

Party leaders say supporters and activists across the country have been stopped from boarding trains to reach Almaty in time to attend the founding congress.

They say some supporters and activists have also been jailed for several days on what they described as trumped-up administrative charges.

Kazakh law requires the participation of at least 1,000 people in the founding congress of a political party for the party to be officially registered.

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