Strong turnout in Kazakh elections, incumbent expected to win

Astana, Nov 20 (EFE).- Polling stations closed in Kazakhstan after a high turnout in Sunday’s presidential elections that passed without violent incidents or anti-government protests.

According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), at 6pm local time, two hours before the polls closed, 67.85% of 12 million Kazakhs called to the polls had exercised their right to vote.

Voters consulted by Efe openly supported the political reform introduced by the incumbent, Kasim-Yomart Tokayev, which reduces the powers of the head of state.

The successful candidate will hold office for one seven-year term without the possibility of re-election.

The opposition in exile had called a protest at noon, but a large police device prevented any anti-government actions.

The only blemish on election day was the low turnout in the country’s second city, Almaty, scene of violent riots in January.

Residents of the city, which until 1997 was the capital of Central Asia’s largest country, are angry with authorities for their mishandling of the crisis, in which several hundred people were killed.

Tokayev, 69, who is seeking re-election, called on Kazakhs to end the monopoly of power that characterized the nearly three decades that Nursultan Nazarbayev, the reclusive father of the fatherland, was in power.

The current president, who faced five other candidates, two of them women, but no opposition, is the clear favorite for victory.

Also standing in the elections were Nurlan Auesbaev, candidate of the Social Democratic Party; Saltanat Tursinbekova, a former civil servant who advocates in her program to combat domestic violence; Qaraqat Abden, candidate of the Alliance of Social Workers; Zhiguli Dairabayev, of the ruling patriotic Auil party, and Meiram Kazhiken, presented by the Kazakh trade unions.EFE


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