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Kazakh Lawmakers Vote To Keep PM’s Government

Kazakhstan's lower house of parliament has voted to keep in place the government of Prime Minister Karim Masimov following parliamentary elections.

The March 25 vote at the Mazhilis was a constitutional procedure that automatically follows elections.

Later, the presidential office announced that President Nursultan Nazarbaev had replaced Energy Minister Vladimir Shkolnik with the Pavlodar region's governor, Kanat Bozumbaev, amid an economic crisis sparked by the slide in oil prices.

Nazarbaev's Nur Otan party won 82.2 percent of the vote in the March 20 elections, retaining its overwhelming majority in the parliament chamber.

Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have said Kazakhstan "still has a considerable way to go" in meeting international standards for democratic votes.

None of the elections held in Kazakhstan since its independence from the Soviet Union in December 1991 have been deemed as free or fair by Western countries or international observers.

Based on reporting by Reuters, Bloomberg, and Interfax