The Washington Post

Hun­dreds were

Pro­test­ers called con­fir­ma­tion elec­tion for Nazarbayev ally un­fair

- Politics · Kazakhstan · Nursultan Nazarbayev · Nur-Sultan · Soviet Union · Almaty · Austria · Russia · Russian Empire · China · Belarus · Moscow · Iceland · Kassym-Jomart Tokayev · Nur-Otan · Fatherland

de­tained in Kaza­khstan fol­low­ing protests of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, which de­mon­stra­tors called un­demo­cratic.

almaty, kaza­khstan — Po­lice in Kaza­khstan de­tained about 500 peo­ple on Sun­day af­ter dis­pers­ing ral­lies protest­ing as un­demo­cratic a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion that will con­firm Kassym-Jo­mart Tokayev as the suc­ces­sor to veteran leader Nur­sul­tan Nazarbayev.

Nazarbayev, who had run the oil-rich former Soviet repub­lic for al­most three decades be­fore step­ping down in March and re­tains sweep­ing pow­ers, hand­picked the 66-year-old diplo­mat to suc­ceed him, mak­ing the out­come of the vote all but cer­tain.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple chant­ing “Shame!” staged protests against the poll on Sun­day in Almaty and Nur-Sul­tan, the Kazakh cap­i­tal that was re­named af­ter Nazarbayev at Tokayev’s sug­ges­tion.

But the smooth trans­fer of the pres­i­dency is pos­i­tive news for neigh­bor­ing Rus­sia and China, and for for­eign en­ergy and mining com­pa­nies who have in­vested hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars in the Cen­tral Asian state.

For many of its 12 mil­lion reg­is­tered vot­ers, in­terim pres­i­dent Tokayev, a former prime min­is­ter and for­eign min­is­ter, was the only fa­mil­iar face among seven can­di­dates in a brief and un­event­ful cam­paign.

“Well, Nazarbayev is no longer on the bal­lot, and I do not know any of the other can­di­dates,” said Natalya, a pen­sioner, af­ter cast­ing her vote on Sun­day for the in­cum­bent.

Nazarbayev, 78, who holds the of­fi­cial ti­tle of yel­basy, or na­tional leader, and con­tin­ues to run the rul­ing Nur Otan party, has rou­tinely gar­nered more than 90 per­cent of the vote in elec­tions de­scribed by West­ern ob­servers as nei­ther free nor fair.

Kaza­khstan’s rub­ber-stamp par­lia­ment, whose up­per cham­ber Tokayev chaired be­fore as­sum­ing the pres­i­dency, is de­void of op­po­si­tion, and dis­sent is largely sti­fled through con­trol of tra­di­tional and elec­tronic me­dia and so­cial net­works.

Tokayev said af­ter vot­ing in Nur-Sul­tan that he planned to in­clude young ac­tivists crit­i­cal of the gov­ern­ment in a “spe­cial com­mit­tee” to pro­mote di­a­logue.

Tokayev him­self said he had no doubt that he would win the elec­tion and promised to take guid­ance from Nazarbayev on strate­gic mat­ters. In­sid­ers say the men ef­fec­tively share the pres­i­den­tial palace, al­though Nazarbayev’s new of­fice is in a dif­fer­ent build­ing.

On the for­eign pol­icy side, Tokayev, who stud­ied at an elite Soviet diplo­matic school in Mos­cow and focused on China, is likely to con­tinue Nazarbayev’s pol­icy of bal­anc­ing among Rus­sia, China and the West. That ap­proach has helped Kaza­khstan at­tract for­eign in­vest­ment and open up mar­kets for its oil and met­als ex­ports.

Kaza­khstan’s Cen­tral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion re­ported a turnout of 77 per­cent and said it would an­nounce pre­lim­i­nary re­sults Mon­day. Late Sun­day, exit polls put Tokayev’s share of the vote at 70 per­cent.

 ?? IGOR KOVALENKO/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTO­CK ?? Po­lice de­tain op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers dur­ing a protest call­ing for free and fair elec­tions dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Kaza­khstan’s cap­i­tal on Sun­day. Nur­sul­tan Nazarbayev hand­picked his suc­ces­sor, former prime min­is­ter Kassym-Jo­mart Tokayev.
IGOR KOVALENKO/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTO­CK Po­lice de­tain op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers dur­ing a protest call­ing for free and fair elec­tions dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Kaza­khstan’s cap­i­tal on Sun­day. Nur­sul­tan Nazarbayev hand­picked his suc­ces­sor, former prime min­is­ter Kassym-Jo­mart Tokayev.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA