Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has secured a second term in a snap election, winning 81.3 percent of the vote. The Central Asian nation’s Central Election Commission made the announcement citing preliminary data.
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Tokayev had been widely expected to extend his rule over the oil-rich nation by seven more years with a strong mandate to continue his increasingly independent foreign policy, as the former Soviet republic navigates the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Tokayev faced no real opposition candidates in a nation where critics are sidelined and all five of his competitors were virtually unknown.
Tokayev won his first election in 2019 with the backing of his predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev, but the two fell out this year amid violent unrest in the nation of 20 million. Present vote consolidated his power as an independent leader.
In less than a year, Tokayev suppressed the worst anti-government demonstrations in his country’s history, neutralised his all-powerful predecessor, and stood up to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Voter turnout was 69.4 percent, with five other candidates scoring in the low single digits, data showed. Voters’ second most popular choice was “against everyone” with 5.8 percent of ballots.
Worst handling of The Crisis:
For two-and-a-half years, Tokayev – a steady hand known for lacking charisma – played the role of a loyal successor. That changed in January.
Protests broke out across the vast country that turned into violent unrest and centred on Kazakhstan’s economic centre, Almaty. Tokayev showed a ruthless side, ordering law enforcement to “shoot to kill” demonstrators. He also cut off communication with the outside world and called on Moscow to send troops to help. The deployment of Moscow-led “peacekeeping” forces suppressed the uprising, which some observers believed might have brought about Tokayev’s fall. The chaos ended with 238 dead in nine days.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has reawakened Kazakh concerns that Moscow may have ambitions on the north of the country, home to about three million ethnic Russians. Kazakhstan and Russia share a 7,500km-long (about 4,660 miles) border.