Kazakhstan elects a brand new president on Sunday. For the primary time since independence, long-serving Soviet-era chief Nursultan Nazarbayev just isn’t among the many candidates. This has impressed uncommon requires change – and a crackdown on protests.
The ability switch has been deliberate “for more than three years”, in accordance with Mr Nazarbayev. And to date, the transition has been tightly managed.
Mr Nazarbayev resigned in March. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, thought to be a hand-picked successor, grew to become the brand new interim president. Then for the sake of “stability” snap elections have been introduced to finish the method.
However it’s not all going easily for the authorities.
There have been quite a few small protests calling for a boycott of the elections. In a rustic the place no dissent is tolerated, it is phenomenal to see a crowd chanting “No to the dictatorship”.
A number of the vocal voices have been from younger individuals. Everybody in Kazakhstan born after 1990 has identified just one chief for his or her complete life – Nursultan Nazarbayev.
His resignation sparked hopes for change – however many Kazakhs rapidly grew to become disillusioned.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s first choice as president was to rename the capital Astana as Nur-Sultan. Many younger activists interpreted it as an indication that every thing was already determined for them and the looming prospect of selecting their future themselves was nothing however a mirage. They felt betrayed.
“Tokayev is not my president, Nur-Sultan is not my city, I have a choice,” recited Medina Bazargaliyeva in a viral video.
The surge of activism among the many youth has been unprecedented. The hashtag “I have a choice” (#уменяестьвыбор) rapidly unfold on social media. College students began gathering to debate easy methods to change into observers and make their voices heard.
“On the surface, everything here looks fine. But when you scratch the surface, it’s just ugly,” says Asya Tulesova.
It’s younger activists like Ms Tulesova who caught the authorities unexpectedly. Throwing them behind bars solely fuelled the temper for protest.
Asya Tulesova and one other activist Beibarys Tolymbekov put up a banner on the Almaty marathon with an indication saying “You won’t run away from the truth”. They have been arrested and held for 15 days for violating the general public meeting regulation.
Following their instance, Roman Zakharov hung a banner within the streets of Almaty, which quoted Kazakhstan’s structure: “The only source of the state power is the people.” He was arrested for hooliganism.
One other activist was detained for holding a clean poster. When he questioned why he was detained, the policeman replied, “we’ll figure it out”. The activist was held briefly after which launched.
Now protests proceed in a brand new type – strolling within the streets. Underneath the hashtag #seruen (“a walk” in Kazakh), younger activists put up their photos on social media saying that they cannot be detained for strolling.
Authorities declare that there is no such thing as a have to protest as voters have an actual selection from the largest and most various variety of candidates which have ever been registered in Kazakhstan. Even long-time opposition member Amirzhan Kosanov is on the record.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev additionally promised that the elections might be “just, transparent and fair”.
However political analyst Dosym Satpaev says this plurality would not actually provide a real selection as the method itself is flawed. The victory of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who’s seen as Nazarbayev’s man, is just about assured.
Observers agree that no critical modifications will be anticipated after the vote as Mr Nazarbayev will retain huge affect.
He’s the pinnacle of the Safety Council for all times. He stays the chairperson of the ruling Nur-Otan social gathering. And as “the Leader of the Nation”, Mr Nazarbayev’s life-time title, he might be concerned in all key decision-making processes.
So, when Mr Nazarbayev joked on the latest social gathering congress concerning the reward he had acquired, some seen it solely as a half-joke.
“We are electing a new president, aren’t we? It looks like I am being re-elected,” he laughed.