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Kazakhs go to polls to vote in parliamentary election

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Kazakh man casts his vote in an early parliamentary election, March 20, 2016. ©AFP

People in Kazakhstan have gone to the polls to choose members of the lower house of parliament (Majilis) in an early election.

Some 10 million people are eligible to vote on Sunday at more than 9,800 polling stations across Kazakhstan, the largest Central Asian country with a 17-million population.

A total of 234 candidates from six political parties are competing to secure a place at the Majilis.

The Majilis consists of 107 deputies, with 98 elected through party lists within the single nationwide constituency. The remaining nine legislators are chosen by the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan (AKP), a national political body representing various ethnic groups of the country.

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s ruling Nur Otan party, which has 127 candidates, is expected to retain control over the lower house.

Maral Akimbaeva, 27, standing in line at a polling station in the capital, Astana, said she would “probably” vote for the Nur Otan.

“If I am honest, I don't see any difference between the parties. They all say the same thing,” she told AFP.

The Nur Otan won an overwhelming 80 percent of the votes, securing 83 out of the 98 seats, during the previous polls held in 2012.

Nazarbayev, 75, has led energy-rich Kazakhstan practically unopposed since 1989, two years before its independence from the Soviet Union. He was re-elected last year to another five-year term with 98 percent of the vote in a snap presidential election.

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