Kazakhstan's leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev, swept to victory in a snap presidential election on April 3, garnering 95.5 percent of the vote. The election, he asserted, showed that Kazakhstan is democratizing, even though international observers found serious flaws in the conduct of the balloting.
After preliminary results were announced on April 4 several thousand Nazarbayev supporters attended a victory celebration in Astana, held in a stadium decked out in the national colors of blue and yellow, the Tengri News website reported. Nazarbayev depicted the election, one in which mainstream opposition candidates declined to run, as a triumph for emerging political pluralism in Kazakhstan. “In the year of our 20th anniversary [of independence], Kazakhstan has again showed that we are a growing, young state, a deservedly respected member of the international community, that we are open to the whole world, that we are building a democratic Kazakhstan,” he told supporters.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.