Kazakhstan’s president vows ‘tough’ response to unrest

Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev says he will act as tough as possible on those who broke the law by staging “massive attacks” on security forces during the ongoing protests prompted by a sharp rise in fuel prices.

According to Press TV, in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, Tokayev assured Kazakhs that he has no plans to step down after he sacked his cabinet earlier in the day. “As president, I am obliged to protect the safety and peace of our citizens, to worry about the integrity of Kazakhstan,” the president said in Russian on Kazakh television.

The president said there had been casualties among security forces during four days of demonstrations which began at the weekend in the oil-rich western region os Mangystau. He said the country had seen “massive attacks on law enforcement officers” and informed that at least several had been killed or wounded. “Crowds of bandit elements are beating up servicemen, mocking them, leading them naked through the streets, abusing women, robbing shops.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Kazakh president made clear he was to take over as head of the country’s Security Council. “As head of state and from today onwards as chairman of the security council, I intend to act as tough as possible,” Tokayev said. “Together we will overcome this black period in the history of Kazakhstan.”

He also pledged to come forward with proposals for the “political transformation” of Kazakhstan in the “near future.”

The ongoing unrest over an energy price hike is far from over, even after protests resulted in the resignation of the government. A state of emergency has also been declared in the country’s largest city, Almaty, where the protesters have set fire to the mayor’s office and stormed other political offices. Similar protests are also taking place in other provinces.

Kazakhstan extends state of emergency

The state of emergency was later extended across the entire former Soviet country, a broadcaster on the state television channel Khabar 24 said Wednesday evening.

The president has already ordered to reinstate energy price caps, but that has failed to appease the people on the streets.

The unrest started on Sunday, after the government almost doubled fuel prices.

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