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Kazakh president says state of emergency 'necessary measure'

Kazakhstan’s president said Wednesday he is confident that the people will support him after he imposed a state of emergency in some areas following protests against rising liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices.

In a televised address to the nation, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said he would not leave the nation’s capital, Nur Sultan, “no matter what happens.”

“It is my constitutional duty to stand by the people,” he said.

On the state of emergency declared Wednesday as protests against fuel price increases spread across the country, Tokayev said it was a “necessary measure.”

“As president, I have to ensure the safety and tranquility of our citizens and the integrity of the country,” he said.

“This is a matter of the security of our state,” he stressed.

Tokayev also said he will act as robustly as possible against the protests.

Situation in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry announced Wednesday that more than 200 people were detained for disrupting public order during demonstrations that erupted across the country Tuesday.

The ministry said that 37 police vehicles had been damaged, 95 officers injured and one car torched during the protests.

Police remain deployed on the streets of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, where massive rallies were held.

Holding the government responsible for the protests launched against a recent hike in LPG prices, Tokayev on Wednesday approved the resignation of Prime Minister Askar Mamin and his ministers.

As protests spread across the country, Tokayev declared a state of emergency in the city of Almaty and the oil-rich Mangystau region in the west from Jan. 5-19 to maintain public security. He also imposed a curfew in Almaty, the country’s former capital, where thousands of people had taken to the streets.

While police used stun grenades and teargas to disperse the protesters, they responded with stones. Clashes were also reported between the police and demonstrators.

The government has also restricted access to social media applications, including Facebook and Telegram.

The protests broke out on Jan. 2 when drivers held demonstrations against an increase in LPG prices in the city of Zhanaozen in Mangystau, which later spread to Aktau city.

Supportive protests in the western cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Oral, where the country’s petroleum and natural gas reserves are located, spread to other areas of Kazakhstan to turn into countrywide public demonstrations.

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