Opposition groups in Kazakhstan have vowed to fight recent changes to the country's elections code that ban demonstrations before elections and until after official results are published.

They say ruling party officials passed the amendments to head off protests of fraudulent election results, and that the changes show that the government already intends to falsify election results. The next presidential election is set for December 2006.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev has ruled the oil-rich Central Asian nation since 1989. Observers say no election under his rule has been free and fair.

The election law changes follow the toppling of governments of three neighbors - Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan - in recent months, after mass popular protests.

Mr. Nazarbayev has said there is no reason for discontent because of rapid market reforms and the country's relative prosperity.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.