NUR-SULTAN - Kazakhstan’s interim president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, won a snap presidential election with 70.76% of the vote, the Central Election Commission said on Monday, citing preliminary data.

The result came as little surprise after Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled oil producer Kazakhstan for almost three decades and retains sweeping powers, picked the 66-year-old career diplomat as his successor.

Tokayev assumed the interim presidency after Nazarbayev’s resignation in March and has said he would continue the veteran leader’s policies and take advice from him on key matters.

Police detained about 500 hundred people who protested in the former Soviet republic’s two major cities last Sunday against what they called unfair elections designed to confirm Nazarbayev’s succession pick.