January 11, 2022 06:30 GMT UPDATED January 11, 2022 06:43 GMT – By RFE/RL
Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev has said that troops from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) will begin withdrawing from Kazakhstan in two days.
In a televised address to parliament on January 11, Toqaev said the CSTO troops will complete their withdrawal over the next 10 days.
The CSTO military contingent arrived in Kazakhstan last week after the leadership of the Central Asian country asked the Russian-led bloc for military assistance amid violent unrest.
Toqaev on January 11 also told lawmakers that he had nominated a new prime minister, Alikhan Smailov.
Smailov, 49, served as first deputy prime minister in the previous cabinet which Toqaev dismissed last week as the country was engulfed in unprecedented protests that turned violent and left at least 163 people dead.
Toqaev, who has blamed the unrest on “terrorist aggression” as part of an “attempted a coup d’etat,” has managed to use the crisis to consolidate power in the oil and gas rich Central Asian nation.
Also on January 11, the Interior Ministry said that security forces haad detained 9,900 people in connection with the deadly unrest.
Kazakhstan was thrown into turmoil in the past week after protests in the remote western region of Manghystau over a sharp hike in the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) spread across the country all the way to Almaty.
What morphed into peaceful protests against wider economic and political grievances erupted into a spasm of violence, with mobs ransacking and torching public buildings and stores in Almaty, the commercial capital of 1.8 million people, and elsewhere.
So far, authorities have failed to produce solid evidence to support claims that terrorists, including “foreign fighters,” were behind unprecedented protests in the authoritarian country, nor has the government elaborated on the precise nature of the alleged coup attempt. Some witnesses said peaceful rallies appeared to have been hijacked by organized violent groups, while others have blamed the government forces for fueling the violence.SEE ALSO:The Consequences Of Inviting Russian-Led CSTO Troops Into Kazakhstan
In the face of a mounting crisis, Toqaev declared a state of emergency on January 5 and called the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to deploy troops to help maintain security.
See the video here: ‘Creepy’ And ‘Scary’: People Leaving Kazakhstan Describe The Mood
At the same time, he dismissed his cabinet and removed former President Nursultan Nazarbaev as head of the National Security Council, a powerful position from which the longtime leader continued to exert considerable influence.
Toqaev also sacked the head of the country’s National Security Committee (KNB), longtime Nazarbaev ally Karim Masimov, then had him arrested on a high treason charge. Several other security officials were also detained.
During his address to parliament, Toqaev sought to reassure citizens that he was working toward economic stability, ordering the Central Bank and the financial regulations agency to ensure foreign exchange market stability in order to build confidence in the local currency — the tenge.