NUR-SULTAN: International election monitors on Monday said a weekend parliamentary poll in Kazakhstan lacked any real competition and they raised concerns over freedom of assembly after riot police detained opposition protesters.
Sunday's vote in the authoritarian Central Asian country went ahead without any genuine opposition parties, even after leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev promised gradual reforms after he came to power in 2019.
"As all political parties contesting the elections supported the policies of the ruling party, the campaign was not competitive, and voters had no genuine political alternatives to choose from," the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said in a statement.
Election officials in the ex-Soviet country confirmed Monday that the ruling Nur Otan party had won with 71 percent of the ballot, while the only true opposition group boycotted the vote in protest.
No previous vote in Kazakhstan has been described as free or fair by the OSCE, which said Monday that previous recommendations to improve fundamental freedoms had not been addressed.
"Curbs on the freedom of association, of assembly and of expression had a negative impact on campaign activities, which remained low key in the run-up to election day," it added.
Dozens of anti-government activists were detained after polls opened despite a pledge by Tokayev that police would treat protesters "within the framework of the law".