Kazakhstan is holding a snap, opposition-free presidential election on April 26 that should enable septuagenarian President Nursultan Nazarbayev to remain in power through the end of the decade.
The 74-year-old Nazarbayev has already ruled Kazakhstan for a quarter of a century. If he wins reelection as expected, he would be 80 when his next term ends in 2020. Some observers are cautioning that the ageing president’s continued rule is storing up political complications for the future.
The incumbent is universally expected to trounce little-known challengers, Turgun Syzdykov of the government-loyal Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan and Abelgazi Kusainov, a member of the ruling party led by Nazarbayev, Nur Otan.
These two purported rivals are widely seen as stalking horses, standing only to lend a veneer of democratic competition to an election in which Nazarbayev is forecast to match or better the 95.5 percent share of the vote he reaped in the last presidential election in 2011.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.