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Kazakhstan election: Hundreds rounded up in protests

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By Emma Beswick
Kazakhstan election: Hundreds rounded up in protests
Copyright  REUTERS/Stringer

Police in Kazakhstan arrested hundreds of protesters as the country's 12 million registered electors took to the polls on Sunday to choose their new president.

According to AFP news agency, Kazakhstan's deputy interior minister Marat Kozhayev said 500 people had been arrested at "unsanctioned rallies" angered by what they say is a sham vote with an outcome that is already fixed.

Eye witness accounts said that police dragged protesters along the floor onto buses.

Politically, there was little suspense over who was going to win.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has been elected Kazakh president with 71% of vote, according to the country's election commission. He was the handpicked successor of 78-year-old Nursultan Nazarbayev, who stepped down in March after three decades in power.

Power in the oil and mineral-rich former Soviet republic is guarded closely by the ruling Nur Otan party, and it’s never held an election that’s been judged free and fair by independent observers.

Nur Otan controls official media channels, access to the internet is limited and police regularly arrest those who attend opposition gatherings.

Read more on the Kazakhstan election here.

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