The presidential election in Kazakhstan is expected to see the victory of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The transitional president received on Sunday according to various forecasts, about 70 percent of the votes, as the state agency Kazinform reported on the basis of by-election polls. An official final result is expected on Monday.
Nursultan Nazarbayev who, nearly 30 years in power, resigned. The 66-year-old successor Tokayev is considered the confidant of Nazarbayev. His election victory had been expected.
The vote in the oil-rich former Soviet republic was overshadowed by protests and arrests. The Ministry of the Interior spoke of a total of 500 arrests, as the Kazakh agency Tengrinews reported. Hundreds of people gathered in the capital Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) and in Almaty for unauthorized rallies.
Almost twelve million voters were called to cast. They could choose between a total of seven candidates. According to the authorities, voter turnout was 77 percent.
Nazarbayev had won in his last election in 2015, about 97 percent of the vote.
Tokayev had promised his compatriots an “honest, open and fair” election. However, the OSCE has never considered elections in the Central Asian country to be free and fair.
Human rights organizations lament a suppression of the opposition. This assumes that the 78-year-old Nazarbayev has also after his surprise resignation two and a half months ago the shots in the oil-rich country.
Tokayev himself told journalists that Nazarbayev still has powers “as chairman of the Security Council and in other functions.”
In view of the dissolution of demonstrations by the police in the run-up to the election, Tokayev declared that he wanted to enter into a dialogue with all. He called the security forces to “restraint,” adding that “serious violations of our laws would of course not be tolerated.”
Already in the run-up to the election, the police had increased the pressure on members of the opposition. Protesters were sometimes sentenced to short prison terms, activists’ homes were searched.