Kazakhstan will hold presidential elections on December 4. The lower house of the Kazakh parliament - the Majlis - made the decision Wednesday, in a unanimous vote. All 67 members present voted for the proposed election date.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has ruled the Central Asian nation since 1989, is seeking a new seven-year term.

He is likely to be challenged by Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, a former loyalist who joined the opposition after criticizing parliamentary elections last September.

Mr. Nazarbayev has pledged to ensure free and fair elections. The vote is expected to be closely watched following election-related upheaval in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and other former Soviet republics.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.