Another woman has joined the presidential race in Kazakhstan, becoming the third female candidate to stand against the country's long-serving leader Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Meyramkul Kozhagulova, 50, registered for the April 3 polls on Friday. Her other female rivals are Maya Karamayeva, 54, and Guldana Tokbayeva, 57, the Central Election Commission said.
Another woman, Zaure Masina, earlier announced her plans to run for the presidency, but later withdrew from the polls without explaining her reasons for the move.
So far, a total of 16 candidates have registered for the polls. Two candidates were refused registration after they failed a Kazakh language test. The nomination period will end on February 20.
Another independent candidate, the flamboyant leader of the Attan Kazakhstan anti-nuclear movement, Amantay-kazhy Asylbek, moved to win the hearts of female voters in the country by saying he would marry off all single women.
Meanwhile, observers say Nazarbayev, who has ruled the country since the breakup of the Soviet Union, is poised for a landslide victory in the early presidential elections, which were previously set for 2012.
Nazarbayev called an early poll for April 3 this year after rejecting a planned referendum to extend his term until 2020, bypassing presidential elections scheduled for 2012 and 2017.
The move was praised the European Union, which earlier warned that the holding of the referendum instead of the scheduled elections would contradict Kazakhstan's commitment to democracy.