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Polls open for snap Kazakhstan presidential election

Polling stations have opened in Kazakhstan for a snap presidential election.

Voting began on Sunday at 7:00 am local time (0100 GMT) and the nearly 12 million voters of the vast Central Asian country will have until 8:00 pm to cast their ballots in the vote which is expected to cement incumbent Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s grip on power.

Few expect surprises in the vast country’s polls, with Tokayev’s victory all but a foregone conclusion.

The 69-year-old is facing no real opposition candidates in the former Soviet country where all five of his competitors are virtually unknown.

The call for early elections was made by President Tokayev in late September with a decree that said the election will launch “an electoral cycle that will lead to a radical reset of the entire political system.”

READ MORE: Kazakhstan: Foiled coup attempt ahead of snap presidential election

The announcement of early elections came days after Tokayev approved a constitutional amendment to increase the presidential term to seven years from five while barring future presidents from serving a second term.

Another change made was changing the capital’s name to Astana. It was changed to Nur-Sultan in 2019 in tribute to then-outgoing president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Tokayev took over as president in March 2019, succeeding Nazarbayev, who ruled the oil-rich Central Asian nation for three decades.

Can Kazakhstan’s early presidential poll pave the way for reform?

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