Kazakhstan’s incumbent president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has secured another term following Sunday’s presidential elections.
Tokayev, at age 69, won 81.31 percent of the vote according to Kazakhstan’s election commission, with five other candidates scoring in the low single digits, data showed. Officials from the election commission said voter turnout was 69.4 percent.
Tokayev said the presidential election marked the beginning of a new political era that will see a major transformation of the main power institutions.
“We will clearly and consistently implement constitutional reform…The national economy will undergo fundamental changes. The authorities will improve the well-being of people. Kazakhstan needs unity to make all these goals a reality. Therefore, I call for unity,” Tokayev said during his visit to the electoral headquarters after the announcement of the preliminary results on midnight November 21.
Jiguli Dayrabayev, of the Auyl People’s Democratic Patriotic Party received 3.42 percent of the votes, while Karakat Abden, of the National Alliance of Professional Social Workers, was the third most-voted candidate, with 2.6 percent.
Six candidates appeared on Sunday’s ballot - the second presidential election in Kazakhstan since the country experienced a change in leadership when former President Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned unexpectedly on March 20, 2019.
Tokayev, who previously served as Kazakhstan’s foreign minister, prime minister and chairman of the senate, won his first election in 2019 with the backing of his predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev.
This year Nazarbayev gave up his remaining powers as the head of the Security Council and the leader of the ruling party during and after violent unrest in early January, while his allies also relinquished their positions.
Tokayev has since changed the name of the capital — renamed “Nur-Sultan” in Nazarbayev’s honour — back to Astana. Sunday’s vote is supposed to consolidate Tokayev’s power as an independent leader.
In less than a year, Tokayev managed to cope with the worst anti-government demonstrations in his country’s history, neutralized his all-powerful predecessor and stood up to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Tokayev has overseen constitutional reforms which limit his own rule to two terms. He has also promised to reduce income inequality by rooting out corruption and redistributing wealth more fairly in the country of 19 million people.