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Kazakh President Nazarbayev Reelected With No True Opposition

Kazakhstan's President and the main presidential candidate Nursultan Nazarbayev walks to casts his ballot at a polling station in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, Sunday, April 26, 2015.

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev was re-elected to another five-year term Sunday in a vote that saw no real opposition.

Nazarbayev won 97.7 percent of the vote. Two other candidates - an obscure Communist Party official and a little-known trade unionist - got 1 percent or less.

The election commission said a record turnout of more than 95 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.

"I am sure Kazakhstan's people will vote primarily for the stable development of our state and the improvement of people's lives... in support of the policies the country has implemented under my leadership," the 74-year-old Nazarbayev said after casting his ballot.

Oil-rich Kazakhstan has thrived since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It has avoided the wars, violence and political upheavals that have wracked many other former Soviet republics. Kazakhstan is a close ally of both Russia and the United States.

But Nazarbayev has been the only leader Kazakhstan has had since 1989. Human rights groups accuse him of stifling free speech and the opposition. No Kazakh election has ever been declared free and fair by international monitors.

A drop in oil prices also has led to a downturn in the Kazakh economy.