Kassym-Jomart Tokayev wins Kazakhstan presidential vote

Cheryl Sanders
June 13, 2019

During Sunday's vote, police arrested 500 people at rallies in Almaty and Nur-Sultan, the capital city that was renamed after Nazarbayev at Tokayev's suggestion.

Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev attends a news conference at the Akorda presidential residence in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan June 10, 2019. Amirzhan Kosanov, the 66-year-old career diplomat's closest rival, took a mere 16.2 percent vote.

An exit poll by the Scientific Research Center Youth, meanwhile, said that Tokayev had gained 69.94 per cent.

Kazakhstan's presidential election was marked by the biggest protests the country has seen in three years.

Police detained hundreds of people in Kazakhstan amid unauthorized protests of a presidential election Sunday that opponents alleged was a fake exercise in democracy.

Marzhan Aspandiyarova, a civic activist who visited police stations in Almaty on Sunday and Monday, said that snap trials were underway to convict and sentence the protesters.

Several other journalists and monitors were detained while covering today's events, including local journalists from Radio Azattyk and Vlast.kz, and a representative of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, a local human rights group. They were all later released.

The national elections commission reported that about 77% of the electorate turned out to vote.

Power in the oil and mineral-rich former Soviet republic is jealously guarded by the ruling Nur Otan party, and it's never held an election that's been judged free and fair by independent observers.

Marat Sagyndykov, a retired 65-year-old former civil servant in the largest city Almaty said he had voted for Mr Tokayev "in order to continue the course of the Leader of the Nation", referring to Mr Nazarbayev's constitutionally designated status. "I think in 30 years we have had some successes. There have been negatives, too, but they exist in all countries", Sagyndykov told AFP.

But it is not every day that peaceful protests coincide with Kazakhstan's most notable election in recent years - an event that has drawn global observers and significant media attention to the country.

Four years ago Mr Nazarbayev scored almost 98 per cent of a virtually uncontested vote where the official turnout was 95 per cent. He appointed Tokayev as acting president following his shock resignation in March.

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