Kazakhstan's president has approved a bill to create a new holiday on his birthday to honor the nation's capital, Astana, local media reported Thursday.
Parliament, which is composed solely of members of the pro-presidential Nur Otan party, put forward and approved the bill decreeing the holiday be observed on President Nursultan Nazarbayev's July 6 birthday, Kazakh media said.
Nazarbayev has faced virtually no challenge to his rule over the oil-rich Central Asian nation since coming to power shortly before the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union.
He transferred the capital in 1997 to Akmola, in the nation's barren northern steppes, from the larger southern city of Almaty, which officials said was overcrowded, too close to the Chinese border and prone to earthquakes.
In 1998, the president changed the capital's name from Akmola, which means "white tomb" in Kazakh, to Astana, which means "capital." He said the media had given the city's previous name a bad connotation.
Lawmakers earlier this month proposed renaming the capital Nursultan, after the president, but Nazarbayev rejected the proposal.
Last Mod: 27 Haziran 2008, 12:16