ASTANA, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has ruled oil-rich Kazakhstan since Soviet times, was re-elected Sunday by an overwhelming majority, according to four exit polls released hours after voting ended.
The exit tallies announced early today are likely to undermine any opposition opportunity to claim a miscount in Sunday’s presidential balloting in Central Asia’s most prosperous nation. But complaints are likely that the comparatively authoritarian government did not allow a genuinely free vote.
Election officials planned to announce preliminary results today.
The largest exit poll, surveying some 300,000 people, found Nazarbayev winning 86.9 percent of the vote.
Syrian security forces clash with militants
DAMASCUS, Syria Syrian security forces clashed on Sunday with militants planning to launch terror attacks in the northern city of Aleppo, the state-run news agency reported. Five people were wounded, including two militants.
A SANA news agency report did not say which group the militants belonged to nor how the two clashes – the first in the area in three months – were related. Terrorist attacks are rare in Syria, a tightly controlled country where the regime has used heavy-handed tactics to crack down against Islamic extremism as well as any form of dissent or instability.
Ukraine culls poultry after flu outbreak
KIEV, Ukraine Authorities were culling and burning fowl Sunday in three Crimean regions where Ukraine’s first bird flu outbreak was recorded, an emergency official said.
Ihor Krol, spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry, said more than 2,500 birds had already died of the virus, and authorities were killing all fowl in an attempt to stop the disease’s spread.
Samples were sent to laboratories in Italy and Britain to determine whether the disease could be the deadly H5N1 strain. That outbreak began in 2003 in Asia, where it has killed at least 69 people.
Camilla not named in state prayers
LONDON Queen Elizabeth II has no plans to change state prayers to include the name of her new daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cornwall, Buckingham Palace said Sunday.
No reason was given, but a palace spokeswoman denied the decision was a snub to the former Camilla Parker Bowles, who married Prince Charles in April.
In a response to written questions tabled in Parliament by lawmaker Andrew McKinlay this week, the palace said the prayers, spoken at Church of England services around the country and at Parliament, will not be changed to include Charles’ wife.
The prayers ask for blessings for the queen, her husband Prince Philip, and Charles. They also ask God to bless “all the royal family.”