Nur-Sultan, Jan 11 (EFE).- A contingent of Russian-led troops deployed to Kazakhstan to help restore order following nationwide unrest last week will start withdrawing within two days, president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said Tuesday.
“The main mission of the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) peacekeeping forces has been successfully concluded,” the Kazakh leader said during an address to the parliament.
“In two days, a gradual withdrawal of the CSTO units will begin. The process will take no more than 10 days,” he added.
Tokayev requested help from the CSTO, a military alliance made up of Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, to defeat what he described as the “terrorist threat” in the Central Asian nation.
In its first intervention in 20 years, the alliance sent a 2,030-strong peacekeeping contingent to the former Soviet country.
If it were not for the CSTO, Kazakhstan would have lost control of Almaty, the republic’s largest city and financial hub, and the epicenter of the protests that broke out over a fuel price hike in the oil and gas-rich country, according to Tokayev.
Last week, the president tried to justify the use of force, as well as the presence of the CSTO troops in the country, saying: “We are dealing with armed and trained bandits, both local and foreign. With bandits and terrorists. So they must be destroyed.”
He, however, did not provide any evidence for his claims.
Tokayev, who described the unprecedented unrest as an “attempted coup,” said Monday that rioters were mostly from Central Asia, Afghanistan, and the Middle East and that he will submit evidence to the international community once an investigation kicks off.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s lawmakers Tuesday approved Alikhan Smailov as the new prime minister.
In efforts to reassert order, Tokayev ordered the new government to start a program to increase the income of the population within two months and called for establishing a public social fund to address issues linked to health, education and social welfare.
The president also announced that he will present new political reforms in September.
Kazakhstan, which borders China and Russia, has been gripped by unrest since January 2, leaving some 160 people killed and almost 10,000 others detained, according to official figures.
So far, 412 pretrial investigations have been launched in the country, according to the president. Among those arrested was former intelligence chief Karim Masimov, who is charged with high treason.
The wave of protests is considered the worst since Kazakhstan became independent during the dissolution of the Soviet Union 30 years ago.EFE