Kazakhstan elects Tokayev president; 500 protesters arrested

Police arrested hundreds of protesters in Kazakhstan as the country elected incumbent Kassym Jomart-Tokayev president with more than 70 percent of the vote, according to authorities.

Police detain opposition supporters during a protest calling for free and fair elections during the presidential elections in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Sunday.

According to exit polls conducted by the country’s Public Opinion Research Institute, Tokayev received 70.1 percent of the vote, beating out six other candidates.

Amirzhan Kossanov, of the Ult Tagdry United National Patriotic Movement, came in second with 15.39 percent of the vote.

“This day will go into our history,” Tokayev told supporters after hearing the results of the poll, the Astana Times reported.

With his election win, Tokayev will become the country’s second elected president since Kazakhstan gained independence following the fall of the Soviet Union.

The election was called in March after Nursultan Nazarbayev, 78, resigned, ending 30 years at the helm of the former Soviet-bloc country.

His announcement to resign followed persistent nationwide protests by the public due to corruption allegations.

Nazarbayev then handpicked Tokayev, 66, as interim president.

However, large-scale protests erupted in the capital Nur-Sultan and the country’s largest city of Almaty Sunday against the election.

Deputy interior minister Marat Kozhayev said police arrested some 500 protesters, the Guardian reported.

No charges had yet been filed.

According to the country’s Central Election Commission, 77.4 percent of Kazakhstan’s 11.94 million registered voters cast ballots in the election at one of 9,968 polling stations throughout the country.

Preliminary results of the election are expected to be released Monday.

ByDarryl Coote