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Xi greets new Kazakh leader

By Ren Qi in Moscow and Wang Qingyun in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-11 09:13
Members of a local election committee carry a ballot box before counting votes during the presidential election in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Sunday. [PAVEL MIKHEYEV/REUTERS]

Tokayev wins nearly 71 percent of vote in nation's historic election

President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message on Monday to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on his election as the president of Kazakhstan.

Tokayev, Kazakhstan's incumbent president, won the presidential election which started on Sunday in all the regions of the country with 70.76 percent of the votes, the country's Central Election Commission said on Monday.

Xi said China and Kazakhstan are friendly neighbors of sincerity and mutual trust as well as comprehensive strategic partners of win-win cooperation.

Bilateral relations between the two countries are running at a high level, and the two countries have obtained rich fruit in jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative and have taken the lead in building a community with a shared future for mankind, Xi said.

There is a good prospect for developing bilateral ties, Xi said, adding that he attaches great importance to the development of the ties, and hopes to establish close contact with Tokayev.

Konstantin Petrov, deputy chairman of the Central Election Commission, announced the preliminary results at a briefing, saying Tokayev received more than 6.5 million votes and won the election, while his nearest challenger, opposition candidate Amirzhan Kosanov, has 16.2 percent of the votes.

According to the constitution of Kazakhstan, a candidate must receive more than 50 percent to become president.

The election was described by Kazakh media as a historical presidential election, because the country's first president Nursultan Nazarbayev is not participating as a candidate for the first time since its independence in 1991.

The 78-year-old Nazarbayev, who was in power for almost three decades, resigned in March. Less than three weeks after Nazarbayev's resignation, Tokayev, the newly installed president and the ex-speaker of the Senate of the Parliament, called the early presidential election to remove ambiguity about the future course of the country.

Some voters happily endorsed Tokayev's pledge of continuing the policies of Nazarbayev.

"I trusted our former president for many years, and if he recommended Tokayev, I think it's the right choice," Irina, a retired architect who declined to give her surname, told The Guardian newspaper after voting in Almaty.

Tokayev voted in Nur-Sultan, saying that the day of election is a special day for the country, even historic, Kazakhstan's Astana Times reported.

On the Election Day, opposition party leaders conducted protests in the streets of Nur-Sultan and Almaty, and nearly 100 people have been detained by the police, said Marat Kozhayev, first deputy interior minister of Kazakhstan.

"Several hundred people gathered in Nur-Sultan and Almaty at the request of the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, an extremist organization, which is not registered in Kazakhstan and is banned by the court," Russia's Tass News Agency quoted Kozhayev as saying.

He said among the protesters are active participants, who had campaigned for "these anti-social manifestations", and three police officers were injured in clashes, Tass reported.

Meanwhile, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's Secretary-General Vladimir Norov said on Monday that the observer mission of the organization did not find any irregularities during Sunday's presidential election in Kazakhstan.

According to The Astana Times, in total, 1,013 international observers, including 866 observers from nine international organizations and 147 observers from 41 foreign countries, have been accredited by the Central Election Commission to observe the election.

"No irregularities have been recorded that could throw the election's legitimacy into question," Norov said.

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