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Monitor faults Kazakhstan elections

  |   Jan. 17, 2012 at 8:23 PM
ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Parliamentary elections in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan failed to meet "fundamental principles of democratic elections," a monitoring group said.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Kazakh authorities had de-registered parties and candidates at the last minute, The New York Times reported.

Kazakhstan's central election commission said the ruling Nur Otan party, led by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, won nearly 81 percent of the votes and will get 83 seats in the lower house of parliament, ITAR-Tass reported Tuesday. The democratic party Ak Zhol received 7.47 percent of votes and will get eight seats, and the Communist People's Party of Kazakhstan, 7.19 percent and seven seats.

The OSCE praised the Nazarbayev government's goal to have broader representation in parliament.

But Joao Soares, a Portuguese lawmaker and the head of the monitoring group's observer mission, said in a statement: "If Kazakhstan is serious about their stated goals of increasing the number of parties in Parliament, then they should have allowed more genuine opposition parties to participate in this election. Yesterday's early parliamentary vote did not meet fundamental principles of democratic elections."

Voter turnout was 75.45 percent.

Nazarbayev, who has been president of Kazakhstan since 1991, had dissolved the legislative assembly in November in favor of a multiparty system.

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