Kazakh president calls early election

MOSCOW (AP) — The leader of Kazakhstan on Thursday called for snap presidential elections to be held in the autumn and for the president to be limited to a single seven-year term instead of the current two five-year terms.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev did not state a specific date for the vote, but said he would run for re-election. The election normally would have been held in 2024.

Tokayev, who took office in 2019, has called for an array of political and economic reforms since violent protests erupted in January, in which more than 200 people died. The protests were sparked by a sharp rise in fuel prices, but also reflected widespread dismay with the country's heavy-handed politics.

The resource-rich Central Asian country was dominated from its 1991 independence from the Soviet Union by Nursultan Nazarbayev and his party. Nazarbayev stepped down in 2019 but retained substantial influence as head of the country's security council.

Tokayev removed Nazarbayev from that post amid this year's unrest and later replaced him as head of the dominant Nur-Otan party.