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Kazakh Call to Dissolve Parliament Spurred by Europe Debt Crisis

The European Union’s spreading debt crisis prompted a request by Kazakh lawmakers to President Nursultan Nazarbayev to dissolve the lower house of parliament and set an early election, a presidential adviser said.

“The second wave of the global economic crisis is coming, with the euro zone in critical shape” and that will “unavoidably” hurt the Kazakh economy, Yermukhambet Yertysbayev said in a telephone interview today from the capital, Astana. “That’s why a parliamentary election campaign in the middle of next year will be problematic.”

European leaders’ failure to staunch the turmoil threatens to drag down the global economy and trigger another financial downturn. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi offered his resignation Nov. 8 after Greece’s George Papandreou this month became the fourth euro-region prime minister to announce plans to quit office since the crisis broke out two years ago.

Fifty-three out of 108 legislators signed an appeal to Nazarbayev, citing problems in the global and European economies, according to a copy of the letter released to reporters in Astana. Kazakhstan’s exports to the EU reached $31 billion last year and accounted for 51 percent of all goods shipped abroad, according to the statistics agency.

‘Symbolic’ Opening

The lawmakers urged “symbolically” opening a new stage of Kazakhstan’s development with a new parliament and government, according to the letter.

Nazarbayev has since 1989 ruled the central Asian nation, which holds about 3 percent of the world’s crude oil reserves, according to BP Plc. The president won a new five-year term in April with 95.5 percent of the vote. He was named “leader of the nation” last year, giving him the power to dictate policy even after retirement.

The ruling Nur Otan party, headed by Nazarbayev, won all the seats in parliament in August 2007 legislative elections, which were also unscheduled. The next vote was to be held in mid-2012.

“Members of parliament made a very important decision that will allow the Kazakh people to have a new parliament and government, setting forth and solving new tasks,” Yertysbayev said, adding that the vote will likely be held in the middle of January. He declined to say whether Karim Massimov will be reappointed as prime minister after the elections.

The next parliament will have members representing at least two parties, Yertysbayev said, citing Kazakh laws.

“Expectations of further global economic deterioration in 2012 and beyond may stimulate Kazakh authorities to pass through the election process earlier,” Julia Tsepliaeva, head of research at BNP Paribas SA in Moscow, said by e-mail today.

Massimov will probably keep his post and no “substantial changes” in economic policy are likely even as the government may experience “some reshuffle,” she wrote.

“We do not expect political stability of the country will be affected by earlier parliamentary elections,” Tsepliaeva said. “We expect the Majilis to remain very loyal to the president, who fully controls the country.”

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