Kazakh voters had only limited choice in election: OSCE

ALMATY (Reuters) - Voters in Kazakhstan’s early presidential election had only limited choice due to a lack of a genuine opposition and restrictions on freedom of expression, Europe’s main security body, the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe, said on Monday.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev, in power since 1989, won 97.7 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election, according to official figures, securing a new five-year term at the helm of the oil-rich nation.

“The incumbent and his political party dominate politics, and there is a lack of a credible opposition in the country,” Cornelia Jonker, head of the election observation mission of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, said in a statement.

“Voters were not offered a genuine choice between political alternatives,” she said. “There were significant restrictions to the freedom of expression, as well as to the media environment.”

Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Kevin Liffey