Kazakhstan vote showed ‘scant respect’ for democracy: observers

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
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A presidential election in Kazakhstan won by the hand-picked successor to the country’s long time ruler showed little respect for democracy, foreign monitors said on Monday.

“A lack of regard for fundamental rights, including detentions of peaceful protesters, and widespread voting irregularities on Election Day, showed scant respect for democratic standards,” observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said of Sunday’s vote.

The election was won by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev with more than 70% of the vote.

The result was never in doubt after he received the blessing of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who led the Central Asian nation for three decades before his shocking resignation in March.

Election Day saw hundreds take part in demonstrations urging a boycott of what they said was a fixed election and the arrests of some 500 people.

The OSCE observers said the election, the first in modern Kazakh history not to feature Nazarbayev, had been an opportunity for political change.

But there were little genuine campaigning and the election took place in a political environment dominated by the ruling party, they said.

There were irregularities on Election Day so “an honest count could not be guaranteed” and the arrests of protesters and journalists were a violation of constitutional freedoms.

“The new president and authorities should seize this opportunity, strengthen trust in the institutions and meet people’s expectations,” said George Tsereteli, the head of the OSCE mission.