Strongman's loyalist expected to win in Kazakhstan elections

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Voters in Kazakhstan are choosing a successor to the president who had led the Central Asian country since independence from the Soviet Union, with a longtime loyalist expected to win easily.

Sunday’s snap election was called after Nursultan Nazarbayev’s unexpected resignation in March. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who became acting president, is seen as certain to beat the six other candidates.

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For the first time in Kazakhstan, a genuine opposition candidate is on the ballot, but organized opposition is weak.

Nonetheless, Kazakhstan has experienced rising opposition sentiment. Anti-government rallies were held this spring to protest what they see as an orchestrated handover of power and to call for a boycott of the election.

One of the most prosperous former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan stands at a crossroads between neighbors China and Russia.