Polling stations close in Kazakhstan elections

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(9 Jun 2019) Polling stations in Kazakhstan closed late Sunday and election committees started counting ballots amid allegations by the opposition that the presidential election was a fake exercise in democracy.
Earlier police detained about 500 people during unauthorised protests in the capital Nur-Sultan and the country's main commercial city, Almaty.
Officials said three police were injured in clashes during the protests.
The protesters were calling for a voter boycott of the snap election, which they allege was staged to put in office a politician loyal to the former longtime president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who resigned in March.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the upper house speaker who became acting president when Nazarbayev stepped down, was expected to win Sunday's contest.
Seven candidates were on the ballot, including a genuine opposition figure for the first time since independence.
The national elections commission reported the election's turnout was about 77 percent of the electorate.
The resignation of the 78-year-old Nazarbayev, who had led Kazakhstan since it separated from the Soviet Union to become an independent country in 1991, came as a surprise to many who expected him to run for re-election next year.
The opposition candidate, Amirzhan Kossanov, said Sunday he had no complaints about violations during the campaign.
Preliminary results were expected early Monday.
Kazakhstan has experienced rising opposition sentiment recently.
Anti-government rallies were held in the spring to protest what opponents saw as an orchestrated handover of power and to call for a boycott of the early presidential vote.
One of the most prosperous former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan stands at a crossroads between neighbors China and Russia.

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