4 Apr 2011

Turnout of almost 90% in snap election reported

8:44 am on 4 April 2011

Turnout in a snap presidential election in Kazakhstan has been reported at 89.9%.

The Kazakh Central Election Commission said on Sunday the figure was not final and likely to rise a bit as ballots came in from villages across the steppe of the Central Asian republic.

President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, 79, is seeking another five-year term. He has already ruled for two decades.

He faced three candidates, one of whom admitted to casting his vote for the president as a sign of respect.

Opposition leaders said they were put there by the government to make the vote look legitimate and that staying at home was the only remaining form of protest.

Critics say the opposition proved its weakness in having no single strong candidate capable of challenging Mr Nazarbayev.

Under a 2007 constitutional amendment, there is no limit on the number of terms he may serve in office.

Mr Nazarbayev won 91.2% at the previous election in 2005.

The BBC reports no elections in Kazakhstan have ever been judged as free and fair by independent monitors.