Kazakhstan elects new parliament – arrests during protests | Free press

Protesters have reportedly called for a boycott of the vote. But Kazakh President Kassym-Shomart Tokayev does not dispute this: “There is a protest mood in every country in the world.”

Nur-Sultan (AP) – Accompanied by protests, a new parliament was elected in the Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan on Sunday. According to the Central Electoral Commission in the capital Nur-Sultan, the turnout of 63.3 percent was significantly lower than five years ago.

The first results were expected on Monday evening. A victory for the ruling party Nur Otan was expected in advance.

11.9 million voters were called to vote. Five parties with 312 candidates were admitted. They had to pass the seven percent hurdle to enter parliament. The Social Democratic Party boycotted the vote.

There were protests against the elections in the metropolis of Almaty. According to reports from the Kazakh media, several people have been temporarily arrested. The protesters had therefore called for a boycott of the vote. President Kassym-Shomart Tokayev, casting his vote in a polling station, said: “There is a protest vote in every country in the world.”

Dozens of activists had already been arrested in recent weeks. After Tokayev’s election in June 2019, there were protests against the authoritarian leadership in several cities of the ex-Soviet republic. Hundreds of people were taken into custody by the police at the time.

The 67-year-old had taken over from longtime President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who retired after about 30 years in power. Nazarbayev still holds several influential positions and is still considered the most powerful man in the country. His daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva ran again this time. She had only been fired as head of the House of Lords last spring. She was considered the most powerful woman in the country.

Observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) had criticized violations of democratic norms in the parliamentary elections five years ago. A new OSCE report states that constitutionally protected fundamental freedoms can be limited by legislative changes.

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