Voters go to polls as presidential election kicks off in Kazakhstan

Clay Curtis
June 13, 2019

The protesters alleged the election to choose his successor would not be free or fair, and had called for a voter boycott.

Mr Tokayev described the election as "a competition".

Two AFP journalists were among those detained in the Almaty, where police broke up a protest involving several hundred people. He told the BBC his government would be tolerant towards those with different views.

Sunday's vote was marred a police crackdown on protesters who took to the streets against what they see as a mockery of democracy. "People are ready for an equal dialogue with authorities", he said in an interview shown on state television.

The prospect of a democratic handover of power in Kazakhstan is "an illusion", Human Rights Watch has said.

No Kazakh vote has ever been recognised as fully democratic by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has sent more than 300 observers to monitor this election.

Tokayev himself said he had no doubt that he would win the election and promised to take guidance from Nazarbayev on strategic matters.

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Speculating on the outcome of the tightly-controlled vote, Tokayev's campaign chief told journalists Friday that he predicted victory but without the overwhelming backing enjoyed by Nazarbayev.

KAZINFORM Deputy Secretary General of the Turkic Council Gismat Gozalov has commented on the snap Presidential Election held in Kazakhstan on Sunday, June 9, Kazinform correspondent reports.

Nazarbayev's announcement in March that he was stepping down from the presidency and naming Tokayev interim leader shocked Kazakhs who had lived under his rule since Soviet times.

Nevertheless, Mr Nazarbayev is expected to retain much of his influence as head of the governing party. "I am confident that your rich experience and reputation will contribute to deepening the Armenian-Kazakh relations which are based on the traditions of friendship and mutual respect between our nations", the letter reads.

Given his close links to the outgoing president, the legitimacy of the presidential election has been met with scepticism. The change went ahead without public consultation.

Kazakhstan's presidential election was tarnished by violations of basic freedoms, global observers said.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, police raided the homes of opposition figures and courts sentenced anti-government protesters to short prison stays.

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