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Polls open in Kazakhstan as voters widely expected to reconfirm Nazarbayev

Last time around, he received 95 percent of the vote, and over 90 percent of the population showed up. Incumbent Nursultan Nazarbayev is all but a shoe-in at presidential elections in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan is voting in presidential elections expected to continue the reign of the long-standing incumbent, Nursultan Nazarbayev who has ruled the former Soviet republic for more than 25 years.

Election officials in the oil-rich Central Asian nation have said they expect turnout to be high on Sunday, although the 74-year old's victory is all but a formality.

Nazarbayev, who goes by the official title, "Leader of the Nation," called presidential elections more than a year early in a move that could do away with speculation about a successor. He faces no real challenge from the two other candidates.

Upbeat and smiling, the former steelworker appeared confident of his landslide win as he voted in his futuristic capital Astana.

Kazakhstan is experiencing an economic slowdown as a result of lower oil prices and the international sanctions against top trading partner Russia. Nazarbayev wrote in an opinion piece before the election that the vote would give the elected president a clear mandate to lead the country through potentially troubled times.

Polling stations are scheduled to remain open until 8 p.m. local time.

glb/jil (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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