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World

Kazakh president wins re-election in vote boycotted by opposition

Long-time Kazakh ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev has overwhelmingly won another term as president of the energy rich, Central Asian nation. International monitors have never recognized Kazakh elections as democratic.

Nursultan Nazarbayev

Nazarbayev has maintained his grip on political power

Incumbent Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has won another term in office with 95 percent the vote, according to an exit poll conducted by the pro-government ASIP agency.

Three other candidates ran in the presidential election, but none were considered credible challengers to Nazarbayev's authoritarian rule.

Opposition leaders have claimed that the candidates were placed in the running by the government in order to make a rigged vote look legitimate. The opposition boycotted the elections, saying they were not given enough time to campaign.

However, presidential adviser Jermuchamet Jertysbayev said the vote reflects the populace's strong faith in Nazarbayev, under whose leadership Kazakhstan has become the safest country "perhaps in the whole world."

Kazakh democracy

Originally, the president's supporters had proposed a citizen's referendum to extend Nazarbayev's term to 2020, arguing that regular elections were a waste of money since the long-time ruler always won.

The president's supporters dropped the idea after the country's Constitutional Council rejected their proposal and the West voiced criticism.

Nazarbayev has ruled the energy-rich, Central Asian republic since it gained independence from the Soviet Union 20 years ago.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which sent 350 observers to monitor the polls, has never recognized an election in Kazakhstan as democratic.

Author: Spencer Kimball (dpa, AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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