Kazakh ruling party wins landslide, observers troubled

The ruling party of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev today won a landslide victory with over 80 per cent of the vote in parliamentary polls which observers said failed to meet democratic standards.

Two nominally opposition groups won seats for the first time in the Kazakh parliament after yesterday's elections which veteran leader Nazarbayev hoped would breathe fresh life into politics while maintaining stability.

But the only clearly anti-government party -- the All-National Social Democratic Party (OSDP) which failed to make parliament -- denounced the elections as among the dirtiest ever in Kazakhstan and vowed street protests.

Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party won 80.74 per cent of the vote in the polls, the central election commission announced.

"This is our shared victory," Nazarbayev told his supporters after the results were announced. "This means that the people of Kazakhstan will continue supporting our course of stability and unity."

Nur Otan will be joined in parliament by the pro-business Ak Zhol (Bright Path) party which garnered 7.46 per cent of the vote and the Communist People's Party of Kazakhstan -- a largely pro-government group that won 7.2 per cent.

None of the other four parties contesting the election in the resource-rich nation broke through the seven-per cent threshold and will remain shut out of parliament.

International observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the elections "did not meet fundamental principles of democratic elections" and had been marked by a lack of transparency in counting, as well as cases of electoral fraud.

"Genuine pluralism does not need the orchestration we have seen," Miklos Haraszti, the head of the Election Observation Mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said.

The OSDP -- the only force among the parties taking part to be openly critical of Nazarbayev and which polled only 1.59 per cent -- said it would change its tactics to street protests from tomorrow.

"These were the dirtiest elections from a moral point of view that I have experienced," the OSDP's general secretary Amirzhan Kosanov told reporters in Kazakhstan's biggest city, Almaty.

"Tomorrow we will have a protest on Republic Square against these shameful elections. The polls have forced us to change our tactics and these will not be the only protests," he said.

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