NEW PRESIDENT.  Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is the new President of Kazakhstan.  He was sworn in at the Palace of Independence Saturday (Nov. 26, 2022). (Anadolu)

MOSCOW – Kazakhstan's new president took office on Saturday after an inauguration ceremony in the capital Astana.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was sworn in at the Palace of Independence during the ceremony, which opened with the Kazakh flag, presidential standard, and Constitution being brought into the Grand Hall.

Swearing an oath of loyalty to the people of the Central Asian country, Tokayev was officially declared head of state.

In his address, he said the snap presidential election held earlier this month was a "patriotic triumph," confirmed by journalists and international observers to have been "just and open."

"I see the election results as support for my political platform and a mandate of trust for the implementation of plans for the coming period. It is a high honor and a colossal responsibility to lead the country, enjoying the people's support," he said.

Tokayev said he would hold state interests "above all" and vowed to do "everything possible" to meet the people's expectations, "to build a just Kazakhstan."

Speaking about foreign policy, Tokayev said his administration would focus on "mutually beneficial cooperation and strategic partnership" with neighboring countries -- other Central Asian countries, as well as Russia and China.

He also announced several rural development initiatives, the return of national assets that he said were "illegally withdrawn" from the country, and "political modernization."

Tokayev later signed a decree setting the date for upcoming Senate elections to Jan. 14.

In a press briefing, Kazakhstan's Central Election Committee had declared Tokayev the winner of the elections held on Nov. 22.

Committee chairman Nurlan Abdirov had announced the final results of the election, with Tokayev receiving 81.31%, or about 6.45 million ballots out of around 12 million eligible voters.

Voter turnout was 69.4% in the election, with nearly 8.3 million ballots cast.

Tokayev called for an early election in late September with a decree saying the polls would launch "an electoral cycle that will lead to a radical reset of the entire political system." (Anadolu)