Kazakhstan: Snap presidential election scheduled for June 9

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Kazakhstan will hold a snap presidential election on June 9, the interim head of state Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev has announced, moving the vote up by almost a year following Nursultan Nazarbayev’s resignation last month after 30 years in power, RFE/RL reported.

In a televised address to the nation on April 9, Toqaev said he would “guarantee a free and fair election,” though no vote held in the Central Asian country since the Soviet collapse of 1991 has been deemed democratic by international observers.

Toqaev said that he made the decision to hold an early election after discussing the issue with Nazarbayev — referring to the ex-president as Elbasy, or Leader of the Nation, a title bestowed upon him by the loyal parliament in 2010.

The early election appears aimed at shortening the political transition period and decreasing the chances of instability following the abrupt resignation of Nazarbayev, 78, who had been president since 1990 and remains chairman of the ruling party and the influential Security Council.

No date for the vote had been set but it had been expected to be held in April 2020, five years after the previous presidential election.

“In order to secure social and political accord, confidently move forward, and deal with the tasks of socioeconomic development, it is necessary to eliminate any uncertainty,” Toqaev said in his address.

Toqaev did not say whether he would run in the election, but he would not have been expected to do so in the speech because presidential candidates can only be nominated by nationwide organizations such as political parties.

It was not immediately clear whether Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter, Darigha Nazarbayeva, who heads the upper parliament house and has been seen as a possible successor, would run in the election.

An aide, Saule Mustafaeva, said that she was not planning to run, but Nazarbayeva herself did not confirm that in a brief comment, saying only that anyone can run and that it is up to political parties to nominate candidates.

Both Toqaev and Nazarbayeva are members of Nur Otan.

The announcement of a vote in two months leaves potential opponents of a ruling-party candidate with little time to mount campaigns, reducing their chances in a country where opposition has been marginalized and politics is still dominated by Nazarbayev.

Sergey Kwan

TCA

Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
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Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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