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Kazakhstan: Foiled coup attempt ahead of snap presidential election

Kazakhstan says it has prevented a coup attempt by supporters of an exiled opposition figure as it arrested seven people ahead of a presidential election this weekend.

The National Security Committee said on Thursday a group of seven people planned to “organise riots and a coup and proclaim a provisional government,” adding that the suspects “share the views of exiled opponent Mukhtar Ablyazov”.

Ablyazov, a former energy minister and bank chairman, is a hugely controversial figure whom Kazakhstan has tried and sentenced in absentia for murder and embezzlement.

The France-based Ablyazov has vociferously encouraged protests through his social media channels.

The security service said the group was trying to organise large-scale riots and planning to attack administrative buildings and law enforcement offices with arms and projectiles.

Weapons including Kalashnikov assault rifles, sawn-off shotguns, ammunition and materials for Molotov cocktails as well as walkie-talkies were confiscated, it said.

On Sunday, Kazakhstan will hold a snap presidential vote in which the incumbent leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, 69, is expected to win.

After coming to power in 2019, Tokayev has vowed to build “a new Kazakhstan” by liberalising the judicial system, tackling corruption and undertaking reforms.

READ MORE: Kazakhstan: Situation stabilises after week of violent riots

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