For Kazakhstan’s veteran president, it is a triumph.
Re-election with a whopping 95.5 per cent of the vote will help Nursultan Nazarbayev further tighten his grip on a country he has ruled for two decades.
But his official, overwhelming landslide comes amid reports from the OSCE, Europe’s main monitoring mission, of serious irregularities. Kazakhstan has never held an election judged free or fair by international observers.
It has built warm ties with giant neighbours China and Russia, whose President Dmitry Medvedev called to congratulate Nazarbayev on his win.
Ex-soviet, oil-producing Kazakhstan is the biggest market for foreign investors in the volatile central Asian region bordering Afghanistan. It is at the heart of a geopolitical tug of war between Moscow, Beijing and the West.