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Monitors Differ On Kazakh Election

President Nazarbaev at a rally in Astana on 5 December (epa) Prague, 5 December 2005 (RFE/RL) --  Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has been elected for another seven-year presidential term in a landslide victory. Preliminary results show he received more than 91 percent of the vote. His main challenger, Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, polled just 6.6 percent.

Many observers predicted an easy Nazarbaev victory, but his overwhelming majority and the high turnout -- 77 percent -- came as a surprise. The victory was tarnished by the OSCE's conclusion that the presidential election did not meet international democratic standards.

Onalsyn Zhumabekov, chairman of the Kazakh Central Election Commission (CEC), said preliminary results showed Nazarbaev had won 91 percent of the 4 December vote, while his main challenger, Zharmakhan Tuyakbai of the For a Just Kazakhstan bloc, finished the race a distant second.

“For Nursultan Nazarbaev, 6,694,000 voters or 91.01 percent of electorate cast ballots," Zhumabekov announced. "Zharmakhan Tuyakbai received 445,047 or 6.64 percent of the votes.”

Zhumabekov said final results will not be available for another 10 days, but they are not expected to differ significantly from the preliminary results.

Zhumabekov also declared the 4 December polls valid.

“On the basis of the results of voter turnout and the first results of the vote count, we can conclude that the presidential election in the Republic of Kazakhstan is valid," Zhumabekov said. "That is why I have all grounds to congratulate the people of Kazakhstan on electing Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbaev the president of the Republic of Kazakhstan.”

Nazarbaev’s victory was more decisive than most observers had predicted.

Shortly after the announcement of his victory, Nazarbaev told a rally that his re-election to another seven-year term is “a victory for the country, for all Kazakhs.”

Nazarbaev, who has ruled the oil-rich country since 1989, said it was recognition of his work in the past years. He promised to double salaries and pensions during his next term and to raise per capita income to the level of eastern European countries.

However, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) stated that the election failed to meet international democratic standards. This conclusion has taken some of the sheen off the victory.

In its statement, the organization noted that there were some improvements in comparison to earlier elections. But its 465 monitors said the remaining flaws "limited the possibility for meaningful competition." It noted restrictions on campaigning, people interfering in polling stations, cases of multiple voting, and pressure on students to vote.

The OSCE advance report said Kazakhstan’s state-controlled media had given massive support to the incumbent in the election campaign, while opposition newspapers had been seized and destroyed on numerous occasions.

More than 1,600 foreign observers monitored the polls. Among them was the Russian-led CIS election-monitoring group headed by CIS Executive Committee Secretary Vladimir Rushailo. In the past, assessments by CIS monitors of elections in the former Soviet republics have clearly differed from those of the OSCE.

Rushailo on 5 December announced that his team judged the Kazakh election fair.

“The state electoral bodies that organized the election in the Republic of Kazakhstan ensured the realization and protection of the electoral rights of citizens in the presidential elections of Kazakhstan," Rushailo said. "International observers from the CIS concluded that Kazakhstan’s presidential election of 4 December 2005 were held in accordance with the country’s legislation. We assess it as free, open, and legitimate.”

The opposition was taken aback by official results. Several of Nazarbaev's challengers, including Tuyakbai, disputed the results, complaining of numerous election irregularities.

Tuyakbai said on 4 December that his supporters would not take to the streets but would collect information about election code violations and file cases against the election authorities.

Kazakh authorities have banned public demonstrations before the vote counting is complete and final official results are announced.

The Voting In Images

The Voting In Images

Workers at Almaty polling station No. 310 registering election monitors prior to the opening of voting on December 4

To see more images collected by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service during the voting on December 4, click here.

RFE/RL's complete coverage and background of Kazakhstan's presidential election on December 4, 2005.

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