Kazakh independent observers criticize electoral campaigns

January 13. Interfax-Kazakhstan. Astana

Kazakh independent observers criticize electoral campaignsRepublic’s Network of Independent Observers (RNIO, a non-government organization) that was monitoring the electoral campaigns in Kazakhstan has revealed a number of violations during electoral campaigning.

“In the course of the electoral monitoring the observers encountered cases when the electoral campaigning rules were not duly followed, which may be detrimental to the fairness, openness and competitiveness of the forthcoming elections,” Bayan Akhmetzhanova, a representative of the organization, told a Friday press conference in Astana.

“A small number of candidates on the lists and the sluggish electoral campaigning by the parties suggest that their participation in these elections is a mere formality,” she said.

“The Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan nominated only nine candidates who are supposed to take nine seats in the parliament. Such a situation should be rectified as there is no alternative, no competition between candidates, and probably, there are no new manifestoes,” Akhmetzhanova said.

Besides, the facts that the operation of Communist Party of Kazakhstan was suspended by court and the opposition movement “Alga!” (Go Ahead!) has been refused registration for years do weaken competition between the political parties, RNIO said.

“Deregistration of Rukhaniyat Party list of candidates can be interpreted as interference in the activities of a non-government organization, which is in conflict with Article 5.2 of the Constitution. In this particular case, any complaints about allegedly illegal activities by the organization should have been considered by court and only following a court ruling the Central Election Commission should have deregistered the party list,” she noted.

The observers expressed their concern about the fact that many candidates were withdrawn from the parliamentary race over allegedly wrong individual income reports.

“There are no clearly defined procedures for tax return verification and we doubt that such verification of the candidates’ tax returns was transparent, which may pave the way for political manipulations,” Ms Akhmetzhanova said.

As the date of the elections was brought forward “once again the parties and independent candidates were deprived of the chance to get ready for their electoral campaigns properly.”

In her opinion, the cold season is also a hindrance to the electoral campaigns.

“The political parties and candidates have less than a month for their campaigns, which, in our view, is too short a period for the voters to learn enough information about candidates and parties,” Ms Akhmetzhanova said.

The election monitoring project costs 293,817 euro and is financed by the European Union.

The monitoring was performed in 13 regions of Kazakhstan from December 1 till January 12.

The snap elections to the Majilis (the lower chamber of the Kazakh parliament) are scheduled for January 15, 2012. The elections of the Majilis deputies by the Kazakh People’s Assembly are scheduled for January 16, 2012.

Majilis is the lower chamber of the Kazakh parliament. Majilis has 107 members, of which 98 are elected on the basis of a universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret voting in accordance with the proportional representation voting system, and 9 nominated by the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan.

Elections to maslikhats (local representative bodies of the state power) will also be held on January 15, 2012.

There are 14 regions and Astana and Almaty administrative areas in Kazakhstan.