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Kazakhstan: statement by the observer delegation of the PACE

Strasbourg, 04.04.2011 – The observer delegation (1) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) welcomes the orderly organisation and conduct of the voting in the 3 April early Presidential election in Kazakhstan. Electoral officials conducted their work efficiently and, generally, demonstrated a high degree of professionalism. Polling stations observed were exemplarily well equipped for a good election, and the overall atmosphere was relaxed and business-like. The turnout was good, which testifies to public confidence in the process.

The delegation was informed by independent observers that media behaviour in the run-up to the election was more balanced than in the past, and that a broad voter awareness campaign had been conducted in the country.

At the same time, the PACE delegation is concerned over unequal electoral conditions, as well as calls for a boycott of the election by a number of political forces, which resulted in a diminished scope of choices for the electorate. The latter, however, underscores the need for a stronger opposition to emerge in Kazakhstan. Therefore, PACE would stand ready to assist the further development of Kazakhstan’s political culture. That would help bring about a greater diversity of political platforms. Furthermore, despite the modest progress in the wake of the last elections, conditions still need to be seriously improved for Kazakhstan to qualify as a genuine democracy.

PACE has observed elections in Kazakhstan in the past and is pleased to state progress from one election to another in this country. The delegation is united in its view that despite certain imperfections that invariably mar all elections in any country, the outcome of this vote truly reflects the will of Kazakhstan’s electorate.

Kazakhstan is not a member of the Council of Europe, however its parliament is bound by a co-operation agreement with PACE. A further possible extension of ties between Europe’s oldest international organisation and Kazakhstan is being explored.

The five-member cross-party PACE delegation was in Kazakhstan at the invitation of Kanat Saudabayev, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Secretary of State. It had meetings with representatives of the presidential candidates and party representatives, as well as representatives of the media and civil society. It was also received by Mr Saudabayev. On the day following the election, the head of the delegation was received by President Nursultan Nazarbayev who had run as a candidate in this vote.

 (1) Yuliya Liovochkina, Head of Delegation (Ukraine, EDG) , Elsa Papadimitriou (Greece, EPP/CD), Tadeusz Iwiński (Poland, SOC), Baroness Nicholson (United Kingdom, ALDE), Jaakko Laakso (Finland, UEL).