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Kazakh Minister Resigns As Election Returns Come In

20 September 2004 -- Kazakh Information Minister Altynbek Sarsenbaev, who is also the co-chairman of the moderate opposition party Ak Zhol, has resigned in protest over what he described as unfair elections.

Sarsenbaev, the only minister allied with the opposition, said in a statement that yesterday's parliamentary elections were neither fair, honest, nor free. He said he will not remain part of a government that "actively interfered in the electoral process."

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) today said the vote fell short of international standards for democratic elections. The OSCE cited media bias and voter intimidation among the problems marring the election.

Early results show President Nursultan Nazarbaev's Otan party leading with 43 percent of the vote, while the Asar party, led by the president's daughter Dariga, appears to have received about 19 percent.

The opposition Ak Zhol is reportedly in third place, with about 17 percent of votes.


[For analysis, news, and background on the Kazakh elections, see RFE/RL's "Kazakhstan Votes 2004" webpage.]