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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-04-03

Kazakhs head to the polls Sunday to vote in the presidential elections that are widely expected to be won by the incumbent Nursultan Nazarbayev. International observers have not recognised any previous Kazakh election as free or fair.

AFP - Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said Sunday that his country's snap election provided equal access to all candidates and proved the country was firmly committed to a democratic course.

"We are an open society and a democratic one," Nazarbayev said after casting his ballot together with his wife at the National Academic Library in the capital Astana.

"All the presidential candidates had an equal opportunity to visit all the regions of our country. They had equal access to the media. They expressed their ideas, their thoughts to the Kazakh people," the veteran leader said.

"They said valuable things that we can take away with us."

Nazarbayev is facing three minor challengers in an election that his own aides have said were likely to leave him with more than 90 percent of the vote.

International observers have not recognised any previous Kazakh election as either free or fair, and monitors have already expressed concern about the apparent ease with which Nazarbayev will secure his victory.

Nazarbayev said in his remarks to reporters that his invitation to foreign observers to attend the election proved his commitment to a fair vote.

"There are lots of observers here," Nazarbayev noted in reference to the nearly 400 monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

But while admitting that Kazakhstan was "still facing enormous challenges in modernising our state and society", Nazarbayev urged people to support the message he outlined in a state of the nation message he read on January 28.

"We are holding a historic election," said Nazarbayev. "Today's national election will decide our unity, our desire to do everything that I noted in my address."

Date created : 2011-04-03

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