Kazakh leader headed for huge election victory, exit polls show

ALMATY, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev scored a landslide victory in Sunday’s election, according to external polls, strengthening his hold on power. less than a year after his appointment with his former ruler Nursultan. Nazarbayev.

The former candidate, who came to power in 2019 as Nazarbayev’s successor as the Central Asian nation’s only leader since the fall of the Soviet era, broke with his former leader after the January uprising that Tokayev called a coup attempt.

A new electoral victory – polls showed him winning between 82% and 85% of the vote – will give Tokayev, 69, the kind of independence that Nazarbayev has always enjoyed. which creates a human religion of five parts.

Nazarbayev, who held key positions after his resignation, was released during the uprising earlier this year that killed 238 people. Tokayev urged Nazarbayev’s allies to offered other positions, and changed the name of the capital – renamed “Nur-Sultan” in honor of Nazarbayev – back to Astana.

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Tokayev called for Russian help to quell the January unrest, but has distanced himself from Moscow, avoiding public support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Russia is Kazakhstan’s largest trading partner, and Russia’s slide into recession has affected its neighbor’s economy, as the ruble’s strength, boosted by capital gains, has helped boost prices in Kazakhstan to a 14-year high.

Tokayev, a former foreign minister and deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, oversaw constitutional reforms that limited his own power to two parts. He has also promised to reduce income inequality by rooting out corruption and redistributing wealth more equitably in the country of 19 million people.

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The presidential election was originally scheduled for late 2024, but was moved up after the January unrest and subsequent constitutional vote. Tokayev said on Tuesday that he would continue to “reform” the political system by calling an early parliamentary election next year. Tokayev left the ruling party Amanat this year and instituted reforms to make it easier to form new political parties.

Opinion polls have predicted that none of the five candidates will score in double digits in Sunday’s election.

“Among those running for president, I know only Tokayev, at first,” Timerlan Sadykov, a resident of Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan, said on the night of the election.

“And secondly, the way he conducts himself on the world stage is very good.”

Another Almaty voter, a 35-year-old manager who gave his first name as Serik, said he voted for all the candidates.

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“… I think the authorities need to understand that we have no real choice,” he said.

Police arrested dozens of people in Almaty who staged a small protest against the election, calling it illegal, according to opposition groups and local media. Police said some have been released, while others face false charges.

When polling stations across Kazakhstan closed at 9 p.m. local time, 69.4% of voters cast their ballots, the Electoral Commission said. The first results of the election are expected on Monday.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov and Mariya Gordeyeva Additional reporting by Tamara Vall in Astana Editing by Peter Graff, Frances Kerry, Alexander Smith and Paul Simao.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters’ Guardian Principles.

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