Kazakhstan votes for new govt

A shaken Kazakhstan elected a new parliament on Sunday just a month after deadly riots challenged the resource-rich but authoritarian nation’s status as the beacon of Central Asian growth.

The vote is designed to breathe new life into a system under which veteran leader Nursultan Nazarbayev sacrificed political freedoms in exchange for a record decade of micro-managed economic prosperity.

The resulting social tensions exploded in December when 16 people were killed in clashes between striking oil workers and security forces in what became Kazakhstan’s worst bloodshed since the Soviet Union’s fall.

The 71-year-old president — in power since 1989 and still with no clear successor in sight — said after casting his ballot in the capital Astana that the vote represented “a big test”.

“I am sure that the Kazakh people will make the right choice for their future, for the country’s development, for calm in our common country,” the former metal worker said in comments released by his website.

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