The government of Kazakhstan is resigning after fierce protests over the price of fuel

ALMATY, January 5 (Reuters) – Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev accepted the government’s resignation on Wednesday, his office said, following a rise in fuel prices in the oil-rich Central Asian country that sparked protests in which nearly 100 policemen were injured.

Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Tuesday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. Read more

The protests shook the image of the former Soviet republic as a politically stable and tightly controlled country, which it has used to attract hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign investment in its oil and metal industries during three decades of independence.

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Speaking to acting cabinet members, Tokayev ordered them and provincial governors to reintroduce LPG price controls and extend them to gasoline, diesel and other “socially important” consumer goods.

He also ordered the government to develop a personal bankruptcy law and consider freezing utility prices and subsidizing rent payments to poor families.

He said the situation was getting better in protest-ridden cities and towns after the state of emergency was declared, which included a curfew and movement restrictions.

A picture shows a burning police car during a protest against increase in LPG costs following the Kazakh authorities’ decision to lift liquefied gas price ceilings in Almaty, Kazakhstan on January 5, 2022. REUTERS / Pavel Mikheyev

In addition to replacing the prime minister, Tokayev also appointed a new first deputy head of the National Security Committee, who replaced Samat Abish, a nephew of the powerful ex-president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Nazarbayev, 81, had ruled the country for nearly 30 years before retiring abruptly in 2019, supporting Tokayev as a successor. Nazarbayev retains extensive powers as chairman of the Security Council; he has not convened the council or commented on this week’s violence.

The protests began in the oil-producing western province of Mangistau on Sunday after the abolition of price caps on liquefied gas, a popular car fuel, a day earlier, after which the price more than doubled.

Tokayev declared the emergency in Almaty and Mangistau and has said domestic and foreign provocateurs were behind the violence.

Separately, the Interior Ministry said that in addition to Almaty, government buildings were attacked in the southern cities of Shymkent and Taraz overnight, with 95 police officers wounded in clashes. Police have detained more than 200 people.

Almaty Mayor Bakytzhan Sagintayev said in an address to residents that the situation in the city was under control and security forces detained “provocateurs and extremists”.

A Reuters correspondent saw security forces expel tear gas again Wednesday as they tried to stop a group of protesters from marching towards the city center.

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Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Edited by Robert Birsel and Michael Perry

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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