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Kazakh Leader's Party Wins Flawed Elections

International monitors say Kazakhstan's parliamentary elections failed to meet international standards due to a lack of transparency and tough requirements that left opposition parties unable to win a single seat.

Officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, say they saw irregularities during vote counting at more than 40 percent of the country's polling stations Saturday.

Despite those problems, the OSCE observers said, the election indicates that Kazakhstan is making progress toward democracy, 17 years after becoming an independent nation.

The head of the OSCE's permanent team of election observers, Lubomir Kopaj was less optimistic, however. He told reporters he has never seen a democratic country with one political party in parliament, as in Kazakhstan.

Government officials say President Nursultan Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party won 88 percent of the vote and all 98 contested parliament seats.

The Central Election Commission chairman, Kuandyk Turgankulov said neither the opposition Social Democratic Party nor its rival, Ak-Jol, reached the seven percent minimum vote necessary to gain representation in parliament.

Kazakhstan has never held a vote that was internationally recognized as free and fair.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.