https://time.com/5603694/kazakhstan-protesters-arrested-presidential-vote/

Kazakhstan has elected its first new president, interim leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. According to the Kazakhstan election officials, this is the first new president in three decades. On Monday central commission has said that former longtime leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, Tookayev got near about seventy-one percent votes along with all the counted ballots.

After getting independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Nazarbayev was the leader. And people were expecting him to rule the country until his death. His unexpected resignation results in appointing Tokayev as President.

With Nazarbayev’s favor it was assured that Tokayev will get the victory. The opponent got just 16.2 percent vote.

Without any foreseen a lot of protesters were in the capital Nur-Sultan and Almaty. It is the main commercial city of the country. The protest led to arrest of near about 500 people on Sunday.

The protesters were asking a boycott of this election. They said that this election is completely scripted to ensure Tokayev’s victory. And the voters did not get the genuine choice at all. Actually, there were seven candidates, but only Kosanov was considered in opposition openly.

According to many protesters, the election is just a “circus” and the process was not fair rather has been pre-selected and the system did not offer countrymen a “legitimate choice”.

According to a reporter from the place of protest, a lot of people were getting arrested and detained  by the policemen at that time. Another protester said “I’m not afraid because I’ve had enough. I’ve been living without a home in temporary accommodation for 13 years. I’m fed up” and her back was pressed against a riot shield.

What Tokayev has said?

In Kazakhstan, protesters without any sanction are completely illegal and here expression, freedom and assembly and strictly restricted. During the voting procedure, the crackdown on the opposition is stronger and even the courts are sentencing the protesters to short stays in jail. Along with these, police are raiding the homes of protesters. A group of journalists along with one representative from the  NGO Norwegian Helsinki Committee enclosed but later they got the release.

Kazakhstan has noticed large protests in previous years over wages in the oil sector and intruding Chinese influence. But this kind of protest, Kazakhstan experienced for the very first time. According to a professor at Nazarbayev University in Nur-Sultan, Helene Thibault, this protest is “unprecedented” and directly challenging the traditional elections andt he  fundamentals of the political system in Kazakhstan. Along with these, Thibault also said, the protest took place in many cities and people from the different social group also joined. And that’s why this is a significant today.

The government planned rather narrated about a peaceful transition of power. But the clashing scenes between police and protesters have contrasted sharply government’s narration.

Tokayev said the law enforcement agencies and young people of the country to practice tolerance and exercise restraint with the protesters. But he also said that serious violations will not be tolerated.

It is about entering a new political age and now both the sides should learn the process. And may the government need to learn how to rightly deal with the activist and socially-engaged populace.