Kazakhstan govt resigns amid mass protests over gas price hike

President Tokayev accepts government’s resignation after unprecedented protests that began over a regional energy price hike engulfed other parts of the vast Central Asian country.

Kazakhstan government has announced its resignation amid mass protests engulfing the central Asian country over gas price hikes.

President of Kazakhstan Qasym Zhomart Tokayev accepted the resignation of Askar Mamin’s government on Wednesday, according to a presidential decree.

“In accordance with Article 70 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, I decide to accept the resignation of the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” the presidential decree said.

Earlier, Tokayev imposed states of emergency in the largest city Almaty and an oil-rich western region after unprecedented protests that began over a regional energy price hike engulfed other parts of the vast ex-Soviet country.

The southeastern city of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s financial capital, was in chaos from late on Tuesday as police fired tear gas and stun grenades to quell unrest that began in the west of the country over a spike in local prices for Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG).

After the departure of Mamin’s government, Tokayev said Smailov Alikhan Askhanovich will be the caretaker prime minister of the country.

Members of the current government will continue to fullfill their jobs until a new government is formed, the decree said.

Tokayev later ordered the interim government to regulate prices of fuel and other “socially important” goods after rolling back liquefied petroleum gas price hikes which triggered violent protests.

Rare protests 

The oil-rich country’s government announced on Tuesday evening that it was restoring the price cap of 50 tenge ($0.11) per litre, or less than half the market price, in Mangistau province.

Many Kazakhs have converted their cars to run on LPG, long far cheaper than gasoline as a vehicle fuel in Kazakhstan because of price caps. But the government argued that the low price was unsustainable and lifted the caps on January 1.

After the price of the fuel spiked, rallies involving thousands of people erupted on January 2 in the town of Zhanaozen, an oil hub and site of deadly clashes between protesters and police a decade ago.

Demonstrations spread to other parts of surrounding Mangistau province and western Kazakhstan, including provincial centre Aktau and a worker camp used by sub-contractors of Kazakhstan’s biggest oil producer, Tengizchevroil.

The Chevron-led venture said output had not been affected.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies


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