Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has accepted the government’s resignation following the extensive demonstrations that took place on Tuesday.
The president’s website points out that the government, led by Prime Minister Askar Mamin, submitted his resignation application and that the president has accepted the government’s resignation.
Tokayev has appointed Deputy Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov as acting prime minister until a new government is in place.
The announcement came Wednesday night. A few hours earlier, the president announced a state of emergency that would last until January 19, as well as a curfew in Almaty and in the oil-rich Mangystau region at night.
Earlier Tuesday, in a video on Facebook, Tokayev urged the population to abide by the order.
– Do not listen to provocations from within and without. Do not follow calls to attack public buildings. These are criminal acts and you will be punished. The government can not be overthrown, but we do not need conflict, Tokayev said.
Tear gas and stun grenades
Thousands of Kazakhs took to the streets of several cities in the country on Tuesday to protest against rising gas prices and show dissatisfaction with the authorities.
The demonstration in Almaty attracted more than 5,000 participants, estimate two AFP journalists who were present. According to them, several protesters and police officers have been admitted to a hospital with apparently minor injuries.
In addition to Almaty, there were demonstrations in about twelve other cities in Kazakhstan on Tuesday night.
Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. Several messaging apps, including WhatsApp, were down in the country after the demonstrations broke out.
Fuel prices almost doubled
Many in the country have rebuilt the cars so that they can run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which is produced from refining crude oil and natural gas. For a long time, LPG was much cheaper than petrol due to the fixed price set by the authorities. But fixed prices were abolished on 1 January.
The protests against gas prices started on Sunday in the region of Mangystau in the west of the country. There, prices have almost doubled in six months.
An incentive from the authorities to bring prices down has nevertheless not put a lid on the demonstrations, which, on the other hand, have spread to the rest of the country.
Asks protesters to show responsibility
According to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the incentive was an attempt to ensure stability in the country. He has also set up a government commission to deal with the situation in Mangystau’s capital Aktau.
“The commission is instructed to find a solution to the problem that has arisen, which both parties can accept,” Tokayev said Tuesday night.
– The police have been instructed to ensure that public peace and order is maintained. The demonstrators must show responsibility and willingness to enter into dialogue, he continued.