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President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won Kazakhstan’s early presidential elections over the weekend by a landslide, a victory that many international observers said lacked “competitiveness,” Radio Free Europe reported Monday.
Preliminary results showed that the incumbent secured more than 81 percent of the vote, easily defeating his five little-known opponents who were not seen as real contenders.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observer mission noted that political competition was absent during the elections, while highlighting the need for reforms in the resource-rich Central Asian nation.
Sunday’s vote came nearly three months after Kazakhstan changed its presidential term limits from two consecutive five-year terms to a single seven-year term.
It also follows a June referendum that stripped the powers of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who stepped down in 2019 after nearly 30 years in power.
Presidential elections were originally scheduled for 2024 followed by parliamentary ones a year later. But Tokayev called for early polls, saying a new mandate was needed to “maintain the momentum of reforms” following the referendum.
The president explained that the changes were important to move Kazakhstan from a “super-presidential form of government to a presidential republic with a strong parliament.”
Meanwhile, critics noted that the changes did not affect the nature of the authoritarian system and did not remove any meaningful power from the president’s office.