ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AP) — Kazakhstan’s incumbent president secures an easy victory in Sunday’s snap election after bloody turmoil rocked the country this year and he moves to curb the influence of his authoritarian predecessor. It is widely expected that
Five candidates are on the ballot for President Kassim Jomart Tokayev. The short duration of the campaign, which began in late October, left little opportunity for major challenges. Clearly confident in maintaining a strong edge, Tokayev stayed away from nationally televised election debates.
The National Election Commission said about 39% of voters had cast their ballots by noon (0600 GMT).
Elections for a seven-year term will take place as Tokayev takes steps to distance Kazakhstan from his longtime ally and dominant power in the region, Russia. He sharply said the country does not recognize the region of Ukraine that Russia declared sovereign at the beginning of the conflict that began in February.
Kazakhstan hosts hundreds of thousands of Russians who fled after President Vladimir Putin issued a conscription order in September.
When Tokayev became president in 2019 following the resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev, he continued the authoritarian course of a man who has led a resource-rich country since gaining independence from the Soviet Union. Nazarbayev continued to wield great influence as chairman of the National Security Council, and the capital was renamed Nur-Sultan in his honor.
Then came a wave of violence in January, when provincial protests, initially sparked by fuel price hikes, engulfed other cities, especially the commercial city of Almaty, as demonstrators chanted “Old people out!” , became overtly political. Reference Nazarbayev. More than 220 of him, mostly protesters, died as the police cracked down on the riots.
Amidst the violence, Tokayev dismissed Nazarbayev from his Security Council post. He reinstated the capital’s former name, Astana, and the Kazakhstan parliament repealed a law exempting Nazarbayev and his family from prosecution.
One of Nazarbayev’s nephews, Kairat Sativaldi, was sentenced to six years in prison for embezzlement in September. “We have to think the court’s decision was right,” Nazarbayev said after voting on Sunday.
Mr. Tokayev then pushed for reforms that strengthened parliament, reduced presidential powers and limited presidential terms to seven years.
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