Kazakhstan election marred by arrests as ex-president’s ally on course to win

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A woman speaks to Kazakh police as they block demonstrators during an anti-government protest during the presidential elections in Nur-Sultan, the capital city of Kazakhstan (AP Photo/Alexei Filippov)

Preliminary results show an ally of Kazakhstan’s former president has won the country’s presidential election.

Sunday’s vote was marred by a police crackdown on protesters who took to the streets against what they see as a mockery of democracy.

Kazakh police detain a demonstrator
Kazakh police detain a demonstrator (AP Photo/Alexei Filippov)
A detained protester shouts
Protesters took to the streets amid concerns of corruption (AP Photo/Alexei Filippov)
Kazakh police block demonstrators
Kazakh police block demonstrators (AP Photo/Alexei Filippov)

The Central Election Commission in the Central Asian country said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won nearly 71% of the vote with all the ballots counted.

Mr Tokayev became acting president when Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had led the country since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, abruptly stepped down.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev leaves a booth at a polling station
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev leaves a booth at a polling station (AP Photo/Alexei Filippov)

Shortly after Mr Nazarbayev resigned, Kazakhstan’s ruling party nominated Mr Tokayev for presidency in what was largely seen as an orchestrated handover of power.

Some 500 people were taken into custody after police broke up rallies in Kazakhstan’s two largest cities.