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Kazakh Prez vows 'tough' response as situation 'extremely tense'

Nur-Sultan, Jan 6 (IANS) Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said he intends to "act as tough as possible" as the situation is becoming "extremely tense" as half of the country's territory is currently engulfed in riots.

"Despite my repeated appeals for calm, individuals calling themselves 'protesters' continue to exacerbate the situation in the country," Xinhua news agency quoted Tokayev as saying in an address to the nation on Wednesday.

He said that the situation is especially difficult in the Kazakh city of Almaty and added: "As president, I am obliged to protect the safety and peace of our citizens, to worry about the integrity of Kazakhstan.

"I intend to act as tough as possible... Together we will overcome this black period in the history of Kazakhstan."

Earlier on Wednesday, Tokayev signed a presidential decree to accept the resignation of the country's government.

In accordance with the decree, government members will continue to fulfil their duties until a new government is formed.

The ongoing riots were first sparked by rising fuel prices, but have broadened to include other political grievances, the BBC reported.

The President has also imposed a nationwide state of emergency that includes an overnight curfew and a ban on mass gatherings.

Meanwhile, the Collective Security Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has decided to deploy peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan in the wake of the unrest, Council Chairman and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Thursday.

"Based on the request by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and in view of the threat to the national security and the sovereignty of the Republic of Kazakhstan, including the external intervention, the CSTO Collective Security Council, in accordance with Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty, decided to deploy the CSTO Collective Peacekeeping Forces to Kazakhstan," Pashinyan said in a social media post.

"The forces will be deployed for a limited period of time in order to stabilize the situation in the country," he added.