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4 Turkish political parties condemn anti-gov’t protests in Kazakhstan in rare show of unity

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In a rare show of unity four political parties in the Turkish Parliament have condemned anti-government protests in Kazakhstan that descended into violence last week, resulting in the deaths of at least 160 people, local media reported on Wednesday.

A joint statement released by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the nationalist opposition İYİ (Good) Party, said the parties condemned “the violent protests that endangered human life, disrupted the public order and damaged property.”

“Stability and peace in Kazakhstan are as important to us as the peace and tranquility in our country. We are pleased that the incidents have started to ease and the situation has started to return to normal, thanks to the common sense of the people of Kazakhstan and the prudent attitude of the authorities,” they added.

Bringing to mind the support of Kazakh authorities for the Turkish government during an attempted coup on July 15, 2016, the parties said they support the Kazakh government’s reform agenda, which aims to “further increase the well-being and welfare of the people of Kazakhstan.”

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Tuesday announced a reform package that is set to extract higher tax revenue from mining, hoping to bridge income inequality in the Central Asian country and in a bid to quell the worst unrest Kazakhstan has seen since it gained independence in 1991.

The demonstrations started in the town of Zhanaozen on Jan. 2, when the government lifted its price cap on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), then spread across the rest of the country, morphing into anti-government demonstrations featuring political slogans reflecting wider discontent about the influence still wielded by the country’s former president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Many Kazakhs had converted their cars to LPG because it was cheaper than other fuels. However, the government said the price cap was leading to LPG shortages and that it could no longer afford to boost supplies. Its decision to remove the cap virtually doubled the price.

At least 160 people were killed, including citizens and security forces personnel, according to a report by Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

Nearly 1,700 arrests were reported on Wednesday by authorities in Almaty, the country’s largest city and the scene of the most violent clashes during the unrest, bringing the total number of people detained to about 12,000 since the start of the protests.

More than 300 criminal investigations, including into alleged assaults on law enforcement officers, have been opened, Al Jazeera said.

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