Italy to extend Ukraine arms supply law until 2023

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Tokáyev seeks re-election and breaks with Nazarbáyev’s legacy in Kazakhstan

Astana, Nov 19 (EFE).- The president of Kazakhstan, Kasim-Yomart Tokáyev, will seek re-election tomorrow, Sunday, in early presidential elections called after a political reform that reduces the powers of the head of state and in an attempt to break definitely with the legacy of the relegated father of the nation, Nursultán Nazarbáyev. “The fate of our people depends on Sunday’s elections. We must consciously choose between a new and an old Kazakhstan, between fear of change and freedom of expression, between the arbitrariness of those chosen and justice for all,” he said. Tokayev during a rally to close the campaign. Tokáyev, 69, was elected in 2019, but decided to advance the presidential elections scheduled for 2024 in an attempt to consolidate his power after reducing the influence of “the family” to a minimum in these three years, referring to the descendants, senior officials and oligarchs close to Nazarbayev. In addition, the elections coincide with the war in Ukraine, a conflict that has placed Kazakhstan and the rest of the countries of the post-Soviet space in a difficult dilemma, since they support Ukrainian territorial integrity, but continue to maintain close ties with the Kremlin. ONE MANDATE, SIX CANDIDATES Tokayev, who will face five other candidates on Sunday, two of them women but no opponent, is the clear favorite for victory. So much so that he did not even have to participate in the televised debate held this week to win the trust of nearly 12 million voters. “He wants to reinforce his legitimacy to end once and for all with the comments that he is a handpicked president,” Karligash Yezhenova, a well-known Kazakh journalist, told Efe. However, if he is re-elected, he will only be able to remain in power for a seven-year term thanks to the political reform approved last June by referendum. So, 77.18% of Kazakhs voted to reduce presidential powers in favor of the Majilis (Lower House) and the Senate. After the introduction of the constitutional amendments, the president will not be able to belong to any political party either, which is why Tokáyev abandoned the official formation months ago. Nurlán Auesbáev, candidate of the Social Democratic Party, will also attend the elections; Saltanat Tursinbekova, a former civil servant who advocates on her show to combat domestic violence; Qaraqat Abden, candidate of the Alliance of Social Workers; Zhiguli Dairabáev, from the ruling Auil patriotic party, and Meiram Kazhiken, presented by the Kazakh unions. According to analysts, none of these five candidates is from the opposition. In fact, several opposition activists were arrested during the campaign and sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention. BREAKING WITH NAZARBAYEV’S LEGACY Without directly mentioning Nazarbayev, Tokayev has not hesitated to criticize the “kleptocracy” that has characterized the Kazakh elites since independence from the USSR in 1991, for which he advocated “honest and fair rules of the game in politics, economics and the social sphere”. The president assures that the reforms, which will prevent, among other things, the relatives of the head of state from holding high positions, will continue in order to overcome the current “stagnation.” At the political level, a new law on demonstrations has been approved and a 30% quota for women and young people in the composition of party lists has been introduced. Within the framework of this obsession with breaking with the past, he even changed the name of the country’s capital, which recovered its post-Soviet name, Astana, after receiving that of Nur-Sultan in March 2019, an example of the cult of personality of Nazarbayev. PREVENT NEW RIOTS And, although the authorities used the extremist card, Tokáyev is aware that the violent riots that broke out last January are closely related to the socio-economic degradation of what is known as the locomotive of Central Asia. These protests, which initially broke out due to the rise in the price of liquefied gas and corruption, turned into riots that caused 240 deaths and thousands of injuries, and were harshly repressed by the authorities who denounced an alleged coup d’état. “I insist, we must differentiate between peaceful rallies and bloody crimes committed by bandits. Our people have always known how to separate the wheat from the chaff. I hope that this tragedy will not happen again. We will do everything possible for it,” Tokayev said. He alluded to the “destructive forces” that tried to instigate political instability in the country last January and forced Tokayev to request the intervention of the Russian-led post-Soviet Collective Security Treaty Organization. The National Security Committee this week arrested seven people who were preparing to attack official buildings and police stations on Sunday, as well as vital infrastructure, with the use of weapons and Molotov cocktails. Tokaev, who recently defended Ukrainian sovereignty before Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, received the support of the European Union High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, this week in Astana. (c) EFE Agency

Italy to extend Ukraine arms supply law until 2023 – minister