OSCE laments lack of democracy in Kazakhstan following elections

The results of Kazakhstan’s presidential elections on Sunday show that the country still lacks democracy and freedom of assembly and speech, observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said.

Seventy-year-old leader Nursultan Nazarbayev was reelected with 95.5% of the vote. The three other candidates each scored less than 3%. One of the losing candidates even said he had voted for the incumbent president, who has ruled the former Soviet republic since the late 1980s.

 “…This election has showed that the country still needs…democratic commitments, particularly in the fields of freedom of assembly and media,” OSCE’s  Tonino Picula who leads the short-term OSCE observer mission said.

There had been little doubt that Nazarbayev – in office since 1989 and granted the official title of “leader of the nation” by parliament last year – would win another term of office in this largely oil and gas-rich Muslim republic of just over 16 million people.

Nazarbayev called on Monday his landslide victory in the Central Asian state’s presidential elections “a sensation” and said it proved the country was united behind him.

“If polls usually divide a nation into various party blocs, we have united. While the word sees bloodshed and ethnic conflict, we – all the ethnic groups and religions of Kazakhstan – are one,” he told jubilant supporters.

Under a 2007 constitutional amendment there is no limit to the number of terms Nazarbayev can serve. The former Communist Party chief has said he is ready to lead Kazakhstan as long as his health allows and the people need him. He has frequently also called on Kazakh scientists to develop an elixir of youth.

Nazarbayev’s current term was due to run until 2012, but he called early polls after rejecting a parliamentary-backed proposal to scrap the next two elections.

Turnout at the polls was estimated at around 90 percent.


MOSCOW, April 4 (RIA Novosti)

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