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Nazarbaev Starts Fifth Term After Landslide Win In Criticized Vote

  • RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

ASTANA -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev was sworn in to his fifth term on April 29, just three days after his landslide victory in an election criticized by international observers.

Nazarbaev, 74, took the oath of office with his right hand on Kazakhstan's constitution at the Palace of Independence in Astana.

He said the energy-producing Central Asian nation would continue to seek a balance in its foreign policy.

"We will continue to develop ties with our strategic partners -- Russia, the People's Republic of China, the United States of America , the European Union, and the Islamic world," Nazarbaev said.

The inauguration followed unusually quickly after the April 26 election, and came a day after Nazarbaev was officially declared the victor with 97.75 percent of the vote in the nation of 18 million.

OSCE observers said that "voters were not offered a genuine choice" in the election.

Nazarbaev has ruled since 1989, two years before Kazakhstan gained independence in the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Critics say he has maintained power by sidelining opponents, suppressing dissent, and engineering his exception from presidential term limits.

With reporting by KazTAG and Interfax