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KAZAKHSTAN

President pledges free, fair elections

ASTANA — President Nursultan Nazarbayev vowed this week to hold free and fair parliamentary elections in this oil-rich Central Asian state next month.

Mr. Nazarbayev was approved as the official leader of the ruling Nur Otan party after a change in the constitution earlier this year allowed heads of state to lead political groups.

The parliament is dominated by Nur Otan and has just one opposition deputy. The president, who has ruled Kazakhstan since independence in 1991, said he was sure his party would win the elections.

From wire dispatches and staff reports