Nazarbayev retains Kazakh presidency

Astana: Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Monday won a fifth term in office garnering a landslide 97.7 percent of votes in Sunday’s presidential poll, the country’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) announced as per preliminary results.

The announcement confirmed earlier data taken from exit polls that showed Nazarbayev garnering 97.5 percent of votes, Efe news agency reported.

According to the CEC, the other two candidates vying for the nation’s highest post, Turgun Syzdykov of the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan and independent candidate Abelgazy Kussainov, garnered 1.6 percent and about 0.7 percent, respectively.

CEC chief Kuandik Turgankulov said official final results would be announced by May 3 at the latest.

“The Central Electoral Commission, according to election laws, shall establish the results within a period of one week… in other words, no later than May 3,” he told a press conference in Astana.

The fifth presidential elections to be held in the country since it gained independence in 1991 saw a record voter turnout of 95.22 percent, the CEC said.

More than 9.5 million voters were eligible to cast ballots in the election for Kazakhstan’s next president, who will serve a five-year term.

The presidential election took place amid “calm and with transparency”, CEC secretary Bakhyt Meldeshev said.

Nazarbayev garnered 95.5 percent of the vote in 2011 and 91.15 percent in the 2005 elections.

He has been the country’s leader since 1989, when he was named First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Kazakh SSR, and was elected the nation’s first president following its independence from the Soviet Union in December 1991.

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