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Kazakhstan: Tokayev named winner of presidency amid protests

June 10, 2019
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Kazakh police block an area to prevent protests against presidential elections in Nur-Sultan, the capital city of Kazakhstan, on Monday June 10, 2019. Sunday's vote was marred a police crackdown on protesters who took to the streets against what they see as a mockery of democracy. (AP Photo/Alexei Filippov)
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Kazakh police block an area to prevent protests against presidential elections in Nur-Sultan, the capital city of Kazakhstan, on Monday June 10, 2019. Sunday's vote was marred a police crackdown on protesters who took to the streets against what they see as a mockery of democracy. (AP Photo/Alexei Filippov)

MOSCOW (AP) — An ally of Kazakhstan’s former president was named winner of the presidential election on Monday in a vote marred by a police crackdown on protesters who criticized the result as an orchestrated handover of power.

The Central Election Commission in the Central Asian country said final results showed Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won nearly 71 percent of the vote in Sunday’s balloting.

Tokayev became acting president when Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had led the country since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, abruptly stepped down. Shortly after Nazarbayev resigned, Kazakhstan’s ruling party nominated Tokayev for presidency.

Some 500 people were taken into custody after police broke up rallies in Kazakhstan’s two largest cities Sunday. Protests erupted again on Monday with people rallying in the capital Nur-Sultan, named after the former president, and the commercial capital Almaty.

An Associated Press photographer saw at least 100 people detained by police on a central square in Almaty on Monday morning.

The observers’ mission of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe on Monday criticized Kazakh authorities for dispersing the rallies.

The OSCE said in a statement the police response “hampered the conduct of democratic elections.”

“While there was potential for Kazakhstan’s early presidential election to become a force for political change, a lack of regard for fundamental rights, including detentions of peaceful protesters, and widespread voting irregularities on election day, showed scant respect for democratic standards,” the statement said.

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