Nazarbayev re-elected with 95.5% of vote

ALMATY – Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, in office for 20 years, won re-election with 95.5% of the vote April 3, Central Election Commission (CEC) chief Kuandyk Turgankulov said April 4.

Candidate Gani Kasymov polled 1.9%, Zhambyl Akhmetbekov 1.4% and Melis Yeleusizov 1.2%. The option “none of the above” did not appear on the ballot. Turnout exceeded 90%. Final data will be available April 9, according to the CEC.

kzelectionapKazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev greets supporters during the ‘Forward, together with our leader’ forum in Astana April 4, 2011. The incumbent president who has held office since 1990 won Sunday’s early presidential election with95.5% of the vote, the Central Election Commission said Monday, citing first official results. [REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov]

Heavy snowfall in some cities did not deter voters, Turgankulov said. Voters began appearing at 8am sharp, said Zhazira Akimbekova, a member of the election commission for Almaty election precinct No. 340.

“Despite the bad weather, voters began appearing early in the morning,” she said. “All the voters found themselves listed on the election rolls; foreign and local observers are here; everything is going fine.”

Promise of stability embraced

Retiree Ilya Belykh voted at an Astana school near his home at 9am. “As soon as I was done eating breakfast, I went to vote,” he said. “(Nazarbayev) is a strong leader who won’t let the country fall apart, and I don’t know the other candidates.”

“I want peace and stability in Kazakhstan. What should I do with democracy if I have nothing to eat?” asked retired Shymkent teacher Kosimbek Bolotov.

“I voted for Nazarbayev, because he was able to maintain stability for the last 20 years. During the uprisings last summer in Kyrgyzstan, I thanked God for a strong leader like Nazarbayev,” said Almaty student Jazira Tulegenova.

Almaty residents, questioned on the street, said they voted either because their employers told them to or because it was habit. “The elections won’t change anything, and the people know it,” said Almaty-based political analyst Ismail Rakyt. “That’s why nobody cares too much about politics in this country.”

The people did vote, though it was more for stability than for Nazarbayev, he said.