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Protesters Demand 'None Of The Above' Option In Kazakh Vote

A bus passes a huge election poster of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev in Astana.
A bus passes a huge election poster of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev in Astana.
ASTANA -- Some 100 Kazakh activists have rallied in Astana demanding voters be given a "none of the above" option in the April 3 presidential election, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The activists from the For Decent Housing movement picketed the Central Election Commission’s (OSK) headquarters, where they met with OSK Chairman Quandyq Turghanqulov.

Zauresh Battalova, the leader of the movement and a former member of parliament's upper house, the Senate, told Turghanqulov that the group's main request was to amend the voting ballot.

Battalova said that a "none of the above" section should be reintroduced, as there are hundreds of voters who do not see any of the officially registered candidates as a potential president.

Turghanqulov answered that such an addition cannot be introduced as it would contradict the amendment to the law on elections adopted in 2004. He called on all the protesters to come to the ballot stations and vote.

The protesters chanted "We vote against everyone!" in response.

Little Surprise In Store

The April 3 vote is all but certain to return President Nursultan Nazarbaev to power.

He faces three challengers who openly support him and whom opposition parties have derided as "pocket candidates" controlled by the president.

Nazarbaev, 70, has been running Kazakhstan for more than 20 years.

Opposition groups have called the early election the latest "tool to illegally prolong Nazarbaev's term in office" and have urged citizens to boycott the snap poll, which Nazarbaev called almost two years ahead of schedule.

Today is the last day of the election campaign.

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