By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) – China said on Thursday that the Kazakh government can properly handle the situation in the country, as reports of numerous injuries during anti-government demonstrations poured in.
“China and Kazakhstan are friendly neighbors and permanent comprehensive strategic partners,” Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry told reporters in Beijing.
“What happened in Kazakhstan is its domestic affairs. It is believed (that) its government can properly handle it,” Wang said, adding that China hopes “stability in Kazakhstan can be restored soon,” Chinese daily Global Times reported.
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev imposed a state of emergency in the country following protests against rising liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices.
Earlier on Thursday, the Organization of Turkic States expressed its readiness to help Kazakhstan in the face of nationwide protests.
The organization, in a statement, emphasized the importance of peace and stability in the country and expressed its strong solidarity with member state Kazakhstan.
It also expressed its confidence in the Kazakh authorities' ability to "peacefully defuse tensions and reestablish calm and order,” it said.
- Situation in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry announced on Wednesday that more than 200 people were detained for disrupting public order during demonstrations that erupted across the country on Tuesday.
The ministry said 37 police vehicles were damaged, 95 officers were injured, and one car was set on fire during the protests.
Police were still deployed on the streets of Almaty, the country's largest city, where massive rallies were held.
Holding the government responsible for the protests launched against the recent hike in LPG prices, Tokayev on Wednesday approved the resignation of Prime Minister Askar Mamin and his cabinet.
As protests spread across the country, Tokayev declared a state of emergency in Almaty and the oil-rich Mangystau region in the west from Jan. 5 to Jan. 19, in order to maintain public security. He also imposed a curfew in Almaty, the country’s former capital, where thousands of people had taken to the streets.
While police used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the protesters, they responded with stones. Clashes were also reported between the police and demonstrators.
The government has also restricted access to social media applications, including Facebook and Telegram.
The protests started on Jan. 2 when drivers held demonstrations against the LPG prices' increase in the city of Zhanaozen in Mangystau, which later spread to Aktau city.
Supportive protests in the western cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Oral, where the country’s petroleum and natural gas reserves are located, spread to other areas of Kazakhstan to turn into countrywide public demonstrations.