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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nazarbayev Disbands Kazakh Parliament

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Deputies in Kazakhstan accused President Nursultan Nazarbayev of dictatorship and decided to set up an alternative assembly Monday after the president dissolved parliament.

Nazarbayev disbanded the legislature Saturday at the climax of a constitutional crisis sparked by a court ruling that last year's parliamentary elections were illegal.

Deputies were outraged at the dissolution and said Nazarbayev would rule by decree pending new elections. But on Sunday he denied charges he was becoming a dictator.

Nuarbakit Kuashybekov, from the alternative body set up by 70 deputies, said the parliamentarians had joined under the leadership of opposition politician and writer Olzhas Suleimenov.

"Our regime is becoming a fascist regime," Kuashybekov said. "Every totalitarian regime ends in violence. That is the path we want to avoid. We want to work legally, but we fear the security forces."

The alternative assembly was due to meet Tuesday to decide on its next move.

"The president will hold a referendum to extend his authority for 1,000 years. I am sure elections to a new parliament will be delayed, because we can clearly see the president wants to be a dictator," said deputy Boris Marinushkin on Sunday.

Some said Nazarbayev wanted to neutralize parliament after it voted last year against land privatization and giving the Russian language equal status.

Nazarbayev opponent Gaziz Aldamzharov said he expected the president to call a referendum on the two issues which he would use as a springboard to extend his rule beyond the end of his five-year term in 1996.

But Nazarbayev himself dismissed suggestions he wanted all-embracing powers to run the country.

"I have already heard this, but nothing of the sort has happened. I want to tell you that I have neither the desire nor the character [of a dictator]," he said. "The state has a constitution and laws and they will be fully observed."

U.S. Ambassador William Courtney said the court's decision and Nazarbayev's reaction would promote democracy.

The government resigned after Nazarbayev dissolved parliament. The president invited Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin to form a new government.

Presidential spokesman Dulat Kuanyshev said Sunday Nazarbayev's actions were dictated by the rule of law.

Outgoing Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev briefed ambassadors Sunday and noted "the entire absence of any sign of political crisis in the country."

Nazarbayev, a former Communist Party chief elected with 99.8 percent of the vote in December 1991, said he intended to confirm all laws passed by parliament by decree.

But no date has been set for a new election in Kazakhstan, which straddles Russia's vast breadbasket and central Asia and which has been a magnet for foreign investment.

Western investors in Kazakhstan said Monday they saw little threat to their billion-dollar projects after Nazarbayev dissolved parliament.

"I don't think that we feel insecure, but we're observing," said Bob Williams of Tengizchevroil, in which U.S. oil firm Chevron has a 50 percent stake.