The president of Kazakhstan, Kasim-Yomart Tokayevwas re-elected on Sunday in an early presidential election with the support of between 82% and 85.5% of Kazakhs, according to exit polls.
Tokayevwho came to power in 2019, will be able to lead Central Asia’s largest republic only until 2029, thanks to a constitutional amendment limiting presidential terms to a single seven-year term.
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In this way, the Kazakhs are committed to giving continuity to the timid democratic reforms initiated this year by Tokayevwho is trying to get his country out of the political and economic stagnation in which the regional locomotive finds itself mired, which maintains close ties with Russia and China, but also openly cooperates with the West.
The option with the most votes was the vote against all with 5.2%, while the other five candidates, including two women and no opponents, ranged between 1.4% and 3.7% of the votes, according to three different demoscopic institutes.
seven years is enough
”I consider that seven years will be enough. It is a large period of time in the life of any person. The most important thing is that in our country there will be no monopoly of power.” Tokáyev told the press after casting his vote this morning in the Kazakh capital, Astana.
This 69-year-old technocrat announced that there will be changes in the government after the elections and that, in view of the 2023 legislative elections, new political parties will be registered.
These promises contrast with the fact that none of his five rivals today were in the opposition and that several opposition activists received 15 days of house arrest on the eve of the elections.
At the same time, Tokayev advocated for the approval of a new law on the return of capital taken out of the country illegally, of which the Government accuses oligarchs and senior officials linked to the family of the country’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbayevestimated by some to be in the tens of billions of dollars.
Although Tokayev has evicted from power many figures close to the father of the nation, he called on Sunday the Kazakhs to unite around the figure of the president, to whom – he recalled – he “voluntarily” ceded power three years ago.
”This is very important for the future of the Kazakh people. Independence, of course, we have it, the State and the capital were built under my orders, but there is still a lot of work to do.”he pointed.
In addition, he also supported the prosecution of corruption by considering the six-year prison sentence for embezzlement and tax evasion against his nephew, Kairat Satibaldiuli, “fair”. According to some analysts, this public support is the price to pay for his immunity.
Almaty turns its back on the elections
The only stain on election day was the low turnout in the country’s second city, Almaty, the scene of violent riots in January and where only 28.72% of the electorate voted.
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The inhabitants of the city, the country’s capital until 1997, are still angry with the authorities for their mismanagement of the crisis, which killed 240 people, including many passers-by.
According to the press, a dozen activists who demanded free elections and blamed the president for the bloodshed in January were arrested today in Almaty.
Tokayevwhich has also approved a new law on demonstrations, called on Kazakhs all week not to confuse a peaceful rally with an armed uprising.
However, aware that the origin of these protests was social discontent with the drop in income and corruption in the public administration, he promised that he would amnesty those who participated in the riots, but did not commit blood crimes.
Nazarbáyev distances himself from the coup plotters
In this regard, this week the trial began against the former head of the National Security Committee, Karim Masimov, and his closest collaborators, accused of organizing a coup in the country at the beginning of the year.
In an attempt to distance himself from his former ally, Nazarbáyev assured that he also wants to know who plotted the coup.
”Masimov worked with me for many years, but how to know? Did Jesus Christ know that Judas was a traitor? commented to the press.
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Unlike three years ago, there were no protests in the capital, which recently regained its name after being renamed Nur-Sultan in 2019, a clear example of the dismantling of Nazarbayev’s cult of personality.
The opposition in exile, represented by the exiled banker Mujtar Abliazov, called a protest for noon in Astana, but as Efe was able to verify, the large police force prevented anti-government actions from being held.
According to preliminary data, 69.43% of Kazakhs exercised their right to vote on Sunday, that is, 8.3 million of the almost 12 million registered.