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Election Commission Chair Calls Election Achievement in Unity
Kazakhstan’s presidential election was monitored not only by observers from foreign countries, but also Kazakh civil society. The National Public Commission for the Control of the Election (ROKKV) of the President of Kazakhstan closely observed the entire electoral campaign. Its chairman, Nurlan Yerimbetov, discussed with the Kazakhstanskaya Pravda national daily how their work was carried out and some of his conclusions about the election.
“The first thing to note is that the turnout was unusually high. Our international colleagues also said it was unprecedented; it is a Kazakhstan record,” Yerimbetov said. The goal of the ROKKV was to ensure a maximum turnout, he explained. “It is gratifying that the message was received by the people of Kazakhstan and we saw the highest activity – people came to the polling stations before they were opened and there were long queues. The flow of citizens wishing to vote did not stop until closing time. … Such a high turnout attests to the strength of Kazakhstan’s identity, civic responsibility and care about the future.”
The ROKKV began monitoring the election campaigns on March 5. Its members observed how legislation was implemented, went to candidates’ headquarters and spoke with election commissions and the media, the chairman said. “Members of the commission were working to ensure equal conditions for all candidates participating in the electoral process, to help avoid bad publicity and to create open public dialogue platforms for building close cooperation with the government, the media, political parties and international missions. What we emphasised in the course of monitoring was legitimacy, openness and transparency,” he said.
The ROKKV placed about 10,000 people in the roughly 9,700 polling stations that opened across the country. “We recruited people from the activists of the Civil Alliance of Kazakhstan, which unites about 500 NGOs across the country,” he said. “It is particularly gratifying that a lot of young people were among those willing to join the commission. We actually paid special attention to attracting young Kazakhs. They, more than anyone else, could bring to their peers the importance of voting. So, the participation of youth in such processes is a measure of how civic engagement has increased … .” On election day, there was full coverage by ROKKV observers in every polling station, the chairman noted.
They will be writing a report of their official observations, the chairman reported, but as for now, he said, “I can say that no one has any doubts about the fairness of the elections – in their results, in how voting took place or the election campaign.” In meetings with the candidates’ staffs and representatives, Yerimbetov said, he was told they were free in campaign and meet with voters as they pleased.
The chairman also spoke with foreign observers. “Personally, I met with representatives of the observation mission of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), observers from the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. … During these meetings, I was waiting for some critical remarks, but I did not hear specific comments from observers on any stages of the campaign. On the contrary, everyone noted the openness of the electoral campaign, the high level of organisation, the increased activity of our civil society.”
Foreign observers also commented on Kazakhstan’s rapid development, Yerimbetov said. “Many of those who were in Kazakhstan for the last presidential election were surprised and amazed at the progress we managed to make in such a short period of time.”
“For all of us, this election was eloquent proof of cohesion in our country. It is no coincidence that the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan proposed the initiative. This brought a special spirit of harmony and unity to the campaign. The election fulfilled its consolidating function: people really rallied together to determine the fate of their country and to choose their leader.”
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