June 10, 2019
MOSCOW (AP) — An ally of Kazakhstan’s former president was named winner of the presidential election on Monday in a vote marred by a police crackdown on protesters who criticized the result as an orchestrated handover of power.
The Central Election Commission in this Central Asian country said Monday that Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won nearly 71 percent of the vote with all the ballots counted. The results have not yet been formally confirmed.
Tokayev became acting president when Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had led the country since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, abruptly stepped down. Shortly after Nazarbayev resigned, Kazakhstan’s ruling party nominated Tokayev for presidency.
Some 500 people were taken into custody after police broke up rallies in Kazakhstan’s two largest cities Sunday. Protests erupted again on Monday with people rallying in the capital Nur-Sultan, named after the former president, and the commercial capital Almaty.
An Associated Press photographer saw at least 100 people detained by police on a central square in Almaty Monday morning. The observers’ mission of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe on Monday criticized Kazakh authorities for dispersing the rallies.
The OSCE said in a statement that the police response “hampered the conduct of democratic elections.” “While there was potential for Kazakhstan’s early presidential election to become a force for political change, a lack of regard for fundamental rights, including detentions of peaceful protesters, and widespread voting irregularities on election day, showed scant respect for democratic standards,” the statement said.