Strongman's loyalist expected to win in Kazakhstan elections
MOSCOW – Voters in Kazakhstan are choosing a successor to the president who had led the Central Asian country since independence from the Soviet Union, with a longtime loyalist expected to win easily.
Sunday's snap election was called after Nursultan Nazarbayev's unexpected resignation in March. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who became acting president, is seen as certain to beat the six other candidates.
For the first time in Kazakhstan, a genuine opposition candidate is on the ballot, but organized opposition is weak.
Nonetheless, Kazakhstan has experienced rising opposition sentiment. Anti-government rallies were held this spring to protest what they see as an orchestrated handover of power and to call for a boycott of the election.
One of the most prosperous former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan stands at a crossroads between neighbors China and Russia.