Kazakhstan elects Tokayev as new president

By Aydar Ashimov and AFP

A car carrying signs for polling stations can be seen in Taraz on May 18. [Aydar Ashimov]

A billboard with election posters can be seen in Taraz on June 8. [Aydar Ashimov]

A billboard in Taraz is shown June 8 supporting Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. [Aydar Ashimov]

A billboard in Taraz shows a message from ex-president Nursultan Nazarbayev promising development and better living conditions in this photo taken on June 8. [Aydar Ashimov]

Nearly 10,000 polling station opened 9am June 9 across the Kazakhstan. One can be seen in this photo taken in Taraz on June 9. [Aydar Ashimov]

Baked sweets and soft drinks are provided at a polling station in Taraz on June 9. [Aydar Ashimov]

A woman receives ballot at a polling station in Taraz on June 9. [Aydar Ashimov]

Voters have to present their passports or ID cards to receive ballot. A Kazakh passport can be seen in this photo taken in Taraz on June 9. [Aydar Ashimov]

NUR-SULTAN -- The hand-picked successor of Kazakhstan's longtime ruler won a sweeping victory in a presidential election on Sunday (June 9).

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took 70.8% of the vote, well ahead of his closest rival, opposition candidate Amirzhan Kosanov, who garnered 16.2%, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said.

Tokayev had received the blessing of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who led the Central Asian nation for three decades before his shock resignation in March.

Tokayev's opponents were quick to congratulate him on victory, including Kosanov.


A woman votes at a polling station in Taraz on June 9. [Aydar Ashimov]

"This political transition will take place with the participation of the people," Kosanov said.

"People are ready for an equal dialogue with authorities," he said in an interview shown on state television.

Third place was claimed by Daniya Yespayeva, the first woman candidate in a Kazakh presidential election, who scored 5.2% of the ballot according to the CEC.

Security concerns for Tokayev will include relations with Russia, its former colonial power, and de-radicalisation of extremist citizens who joined "Islamic State" (IS) and who have returned to Kazakhstan.

Arrests, boycott

Sunday also saw hundreds of arrests after the biggest protests in Kazakhstan in at least three years, as demonstrators urged a boycott of the election.

The Interior Ministry said about 500 people were arrested on Sunday, with Deputy Minister Marat Kozhayev blaming "radical elements" for holding "unsanctioned" rallies.

Scores more were arrested on Monday (June 10), AFP reported.

Tokayev insisted the election had been "a competition" despite claims it was fixed.

"This shows that our level of political culture has seriously increased. There is much work ahead," he said in comments broadcast Monday on state television.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said there were "widespread voting irregularities".

Kazakh authorities said they would investigate all allegations of vote violations.

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