Middle-East

Landslide Victory for Kazakh President Nazarbayev

ASTANA, April 4 (Xinhua) — Kazakhstan’s incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev was reelected in Sunday’s presidential election with 95.5 percent of the votes counted, the Central Election Commission (CEC) announced on Monday.

The win will give Nazarbayev, 70, another five-year mandate to govern the largest country in Central Aisa.

CEC chairman Kuandyk Turgankulov told reporters the partial official results showed the other three candidates failed to collect more than 2 percent of the vote.

Zhambyl Akhmetbekov, head of the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan, received 1.4 percent of the vote and pro-government Senator Gani Kasymov of the Party of Patriots 1.9 percent. Independent and environmentalist Mels Yeleusizov picked up 1.2 percent.

“The figures are preliminary, not final. We have just received the first reports from territorial commissions. The rest will arrive within two days, as required by the law,” Turgankulov said. “We will update the figures on voter turnout and on election returns as more reports become available.”

“Concerning the final outcome of the snap election on April 3, the Central Election Commission will count the figures finally within seven days of the polls, or no later than April 9, 2011,” he added.

But the top election official did not give the percentage of the votes counted.

Hours before the release of the official results, Nazarbayev claimed his election victory, citing preliminary data and figures of exit polls.

“Preliminary data from the Central Election Commission and exit poll data have established that the Kazakh people, our citizens, approve of the work I have been doing all these 20 years,” he said Monday during a visit to the headquarters of his Nur Otan ruling party.

“What other honours, what other support is needed for a person who heads the country — the president,” he added.

A total of 22 people applied for candidacy, but 18 of them were out of the race either because they had not passed the Kazakh language test or failed to collect enough supporter signatures.

Under the Kazakhstan election law, a presidential candidate should master the Kazakh language and collect at least 91,010 supporter signatures.

The registered electorate is around 9.1 million in a nation with a population of 16.4 million. The candidate who wins over 50 percent of the votes will become the new president.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and other multilateral groups have deployed more than 1,000 observers across the country to monitor the presidential election, the third in the former Soviet republic since 1991.

According to the central election commission, the turnout in Sunday’s vote was nearly 90 percent.

Nazarbayev has been president of the mineral-rich country since 1991 when Kazakhstan gained independence after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. He is backed by the largest political party in Kazakhstan — Nur Otan (Fatherland’s Ray of Light).

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