Kazakh leader defends election win

Most of Kazakh Presidents' vocal opponents have either been jailed or have fled abroad - there were only two contenders were a low-profile Communist Party member and a loyal former regional governor.

Kazakh leader defends election win

 World Bulletin / News Desk

Kazakhstan's long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev apologised on Monday for winning re-election with 97.7 percent of the vote, saying it would have "looked undemocratic" for him to intervene to make his victory more modest.

Sunday's election gives another five year term to the 74-year-old former steelworker, who has ruled the oil-producing nation since rising to the post of its Soviet-era Communist Party boss in 1989. Central Election Commission data showed turnout was 95.22 percent.

Television showed a triumphant Nazarbayev walking on a red carpet, smiling and shaking hands and greeting thousands of jubilant supporters at what officials called "The Victors' Forum" held in a spacious stadium in the capital Astana.

"Kazakhstan has shown its political culture to the entire world," he told his supporters.

At a later news conference, he said of the poll results: "I apologise that for super-democratic states such figures are unacceptable. But I could do nothing. If I had interfered, I would have looked undemocratic, right?"

Nazarbayev is lionised by compliant state media and is officially titled "Leader of the Nation". He is permitted by law to run as often as he wishes. 

The Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe said in an election observation report there was a lack of a credible opposition: "Voters were not offered a genuine choice between political alternatives," it said.

Nazarbayev has promoted market reforms and attracted $200 billion in foreign direct investment, turning his steppe nation of 17 million into the second-largest economy in the former Soviet Union and No. 2 post-Soviet oil producer after Russia.

The multi-ethnic, mainly Muslim country is stable in a region troubled by ethnic violence from Kyrgyzstan toAfghanistan. Nazarbayev has promoted "a multi-vector policy", building good ties with neighbouring Russia and China as well as the United States and the European Union.

Last Mod: 27 Nisan 2015, 15:59
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