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Nazarbayev Claims Win in Kazakh Vote

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TEHRAN, April 4 (ICANA) – Kazakhstan's incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev has claimed victory in the central Asian country's presidential election following the latest constitutional amendments.
Monday, April 04, 2011 9:46:33 AM
Nazarbayev Claims Win in Kazakh Vote

"Preliminary data from the Central Election Commission and exit poll data have established that the Kazakh people, our citizens, approve of the work I have been doing all these 20 years," AFP quoted the Kazakh president as saying on Monday.

Three other candidates stood in Sunday's election. Opponents have criticized insufficient time to prepare for the presidential poll called less than two months ago.

Critics, however, say the opposition proved its weakness in having no single strong candidate capable of challenging the president.

Exit polls suggest Nazarbayev has won about 95 percent of the vote.

On February 2, Kazakhstan's parliament approved constitutional amendments, which allowed Nazarbayev to hold a snap presidential vote.

The Central Asian country previously lacked the constitutional framework for conducting snap polls.

"What other honors, what other support is needed for a person who heads the country -- the president," Nazarbayev said in apparent reference to Western criticism for the vote.

Nazarbayev's announcement came after rare criticism of the ex-Soviet state by its Western ally, the United States.

His comments came during a visit to the headquarters of his Nur Otan ruling party and were issued before the official release of results by the Central Election Commission, whose report is expected later Monday.

Nazarbayev has been in office for over 20 years. He has ruled Kazakhstan -- Central Asia's largest oil producer and one of the world's leading uranium producers -- since it declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

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