Tue, 26 May 2020

NUR-SULTAN -- Dozens of women have rallied in front of the offices of the ruling Nur Otan party in Kazakhstan's capital, Nur-Sultan, demanding a meeting with President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev and Nur Otan's leader, former President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

The protesters at the September 19 rally urged Toqaev and Nur Otan leaders to fulfill their promises to financially support families with many children and single mothers, and provide them with proper housing.

Police prevented the women from entering the building.

A lawmaker, Lazzat Suleimen, came out to talk to the women and told them the benefits were being discussed, but the women refused to talk to her and walked away from the site.

Protests about poor living conditions and lack of financial support have been held across the country for months, since five children from one family died when their home in the capital burned down in early February.

The tragedy occurred while both parents were working overnight shifts to make ends meet.

The protests intensified before and after an early presidential election held on June 9, which was called after 79-year-old Nazarbaev resigned in March following almost 30 years in power.

In addition to heading the ruling party, he is still chairman of the country's Security Council and holds the title of 'elbasy,' or leader of the nation.

Toqaev, who became interim president after Nazarbaev's resignation, was declared the winner of the election.

No vote held in Kazakhstan since 1991 has been deemed free and fair by international observers.

Opponents, critics, and rights groups say Nazarbaev, who tolerated little dissent, denied many citizens basic rights and prolonged his hold on power in the energy-rich country of 18.7 million by manipulating the democratic process.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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