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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 August 2007, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Kazakh poll fairness questioned
Vote counting in Kazakhstan parliamentary elections
The OSCE questioned vote counting in Kazakhstan's election
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe says an election in Kazakhstan has made progress, but not fully met international standards.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev's Nur-Otan party has won all seats in the new parliament, official results show.

But the OSCE said there was a lack of transparency in the vote count at more than 40% of polling stations visited.

Mr Nazarbayev had hoped for a positive OSCE verdict, since his country wants to take over its presidency in 2009.

The outcome absolutely does not reflect the actual alignment of political forces and the social support they draw
Burikhan Nurmukhamedov
a leader of the opposition Ak Zhol party

Kazakhstan has never held an election deemed free and fair by the international community, the BBC's Natalia Antelava reports from Astana.

But there had been hope that things would be different this time if only because of Mr Nazarbayev's ambition to turn his country into a serious international player, our correspondent adds.

'Lack of transparency'

In a post-election report, the OSCE praised the atmosphere in which the poll took place, but questioned its fairness.

"Voting was conducted in a calm atmosphere and was assessed positively by observers. However the vote count was assessed negatively in over 40 per cent of polling stations visited, mainly due to procedural problems and lack of transparency," the OSCE said.

The organization also criticised the electoral framework, particularly the high threshold - seven percent - needed to win parliamentary representation, and said the state media had favoured Mr Nazarbayev's party.

Official preliminary results show the Nur-Otan party won 88% of the vote and no other party crossed the seven per cent threshold, handing all 98 elected seats in the lower house of the Kazakh parliament to Nur-Otan.

Ualikhan Kaisarov, a leader of the biggest opposition party, the National Social Democratic Party, said Saturday's election had been "utterly profaned".

Constitutional changes

Mr Nazarbayev celebrated victory with a lavish concert in the capital, Astana.

Bulat Abilov, one of the opposition National Social Democratic Party's leaders, casts his vote
The main opposition party says the campaign was weighted against it

He had called the poll two years early in order to amend the constitution, expanding parliament and introducing proportional representation but also removing any limit on presidential terms in office.

Ualikhan Kaisarov's party, which officially won 4.62% of the vote, had complained before polling day that it had not been allowed to run some of its adverts on national television and criticisms levelled by its leaders in one TV debate had been edited out.

A leader of the Ak Zhol party, which officially won 3.25% of the vote according to the Kazakh election commission, said it did not recognise the result and insisted it had actually won about 12%.

"The outcome absolutely does not reflect the actual alignment of political forces and the social support they draw," Burikhan Nurmukhamedov said, in remarks quoted by Russian news agency Interfax.

The party, he added, would protest to the election commission and chief prosecutor with proof of voting irregularities.

'Peace and consensus'

Mr Nazarbayev, who has ruled Kazakhstan since Soviet times, told a rally of about 3,000 supporters on Saturday night that the country had embarked on "a new political system".

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev speaks at a press conference in Astana on 18 August 2007

"I am sure that Kazakhs have chosen the way of peace, consensus, prosperity and the improvement of the lives of all Kazakhs," he said.

Two-thirds of Kazakh voters turned out for the election in the country of 15m, according to the election commission.

The country occupies a unique position among the ex-Soviet Central Asian states for having a large ethnic Russian minority.

Crowds gather in Astana for a victory party

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