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Kazakh leader to run for 2016 election after April snap polls

RIA Novosti

09:46 15/02/2011 ASTANA, February 15 (RIA Novosti) - Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has announced his plans to run in the 2016 polls after the April 3 early election in which he is sure to have a guaranteed victory, presidential advisor Yermukhamet Yertysbaev said on Tuesday.

"The president is seeking to also run for the 2016 election. The coming decade is a very important period in building and developing an independent Kazakhstan. We will be building our future together with Nursultan Nazarbayev at the helm," Yertysbaev said in an interview with the Liter newspaper.

Nazarbayev called an early poll for April 3 this year after rejecting a planned referendum to extend his term until 2020, bypassing presidential elections scheduled for 2012 and 2017. The country's parliament voted in favor of the referendum last month.

Although the Kazakh long-standing leader is "sure of his victory," he is not overconfident and is "completely focused, mobilized and targeted for the presidential election race," Yertysbaev said.

Nazarbayev, 70, who has led Kazakhstan since it broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991, considers the election as a unique chance to "cement" the unity of the Kazakh people for the next five to ten years, he said.

The Kazakh president's decision not to hold the referendum was praised by European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton as being in Kazakhstan's long-term interests.

The European Union earlier warned that the holding of the referendum instead of the scheduled elections would contradict Kazakhstan's commitment to democracy.

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