KAZAKHSTAN: President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev made an announcement on Jan. 5, Thursday that he was restoring the temporary price controls for LPG for at least 180 days.
The demonstrations against the rising fuel prices began on January 2 in Zhanaozen town. Zhanaozen is an oil hub and a town of deadly clashes between citizens and police for a decade. Protests then spread across the rest of the country.
Kazakhstan security forces have claimed that they have killed dozens of protesters in Almaty to restore order.
The security sources have said that the protestors were trying to take control of police stations Massive riots due to a hike in fuel prices have caused unrest in the country. Around 1,000 protestors were wounded in the protests and 13 security officers were killed. Public demonstrations in Kazakhstan are considered illegal and strict actions are taken against the protestors.
The cause of Kazakhstan’s turmoil
Kazakhstan is famous for having some of the largest oil reserves. The country produces around 1.6 million barrels of oil per day. Due to this, the country has been able to attract many billion-dollar foreign investors.
Unfortunately, the wealth has not proven to be of any use to the country’s population. The average income of the population is less than £2,500 per year.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, a former Communist Party member has ruled the country for 18 years. He resigned in 2019 thus making way for current President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. However, the political change didn’t help in improving the economic condition of the country. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has said that the government had failed to keep inflation in check. According to the reports, the president has appointed Alikhan Smailov as acting prime minister.
Kazakhstan protests began when the government reduced the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The citizens were ready for this big change. Since LPG was cheaper than other fuels, Kazakhs converted their cars to LPG. However, the Kazakhstan government refused to continue subsidizing LPG as it couldn’t afford it. In turn, the government virtually doubled the LPG price.
United Nations’ efforts for Kazakhstan’s current situation
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the political parties in the country to avoid violence. The chief further added that Kazakhstan must seek dialogue to handle the strenuous situation.
The United Nations is closely monitoring the situation in Kazakhstan. As per the reports, there has been some communication between the UN and Kazakhstan national authorities.
“During these exchanges, Natalia Gherman on behalf of the secretary-general reaffirmed requests to exhibit moderation, refrain from violence, and urge dialogue to address the issue,” UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
“But one thing is certain: all demonstrations must be nonviolent. People have the right to air their complaints. It must be done in a calm manner. And security officers must safeguard that privilege by displaying and acting with restraint,” he stated.
Kazakhstan’s government is now making some concessions. The country’s government has ordered the regulation of all vehicle fuel prices for six months.