07ASTANA1716, KAZAKHSTAN: PRESIDENT DISSOLVES MAZHILIS, CALLS ELECTIONS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA1716 2007-06-21 00:04 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO1260
PP RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #1716/01 1720004
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 210004Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9872
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0215
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC//SCA COLLECTIVE/ 9873
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1766
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2222
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 001716 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/CEN (M. O'MARA) 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM PREL KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: PRESIDENT DISSOLVES MAZHILIS, CALLS ELECTIONS 
UNDER NEWLY PASSED REFORM LEGISLATION 
 
REF: A. Astana 515, B. USOSCE 195, C. Astana 1304, 
      D. Astana 1323, E. Astana 1528, F. Astana 1558, 
      G. Astana 1668 
 
ASTANA 00001716  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. (U) Summary:  On June 18, the parliament passed a number of 
legislative amendments to implement the recent changes to 
Kazakhstan's constitution.  Most of the legislative changes are 
identical to the recent constitutional changes, though the new law 
on elections sets forth the election process in greater detail. 
President Nazarbayev signed all of the legislative changes on June 
19.  On June 20, he announced the early dissolution of the Mazhilis, 
and called elections for August 18. End summary. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
PRESIDENT DISSOLVES MAZHILIS, CALLS EARLY ELECTIONS... 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
2. (U) On June 18, during a joint session, the parliament passed 
amendments implementing recent changes to Kazakhstan's constitution 
in four major laws: the Laws on the President, the Cabinet, the 
Parliament and the Status of Its Members, and Elections.  President 
Nazarbayev signed all of the legislation on June 19. 
 
3. (U) On June 20, President Nazarbayev announced the early 
dissolution of the Mazhilis; the Mazhilis term would normally expire 
in September 2009.   He scheduled new Mazhilis elections for August 
18.  Under this timetable, political parties must begin nominating 
candidates on June 22, and complete the nominations by July 11. 
Nazarbayev announced that the Assembly of Peoples of Kazakhstan, 
which is now entitled to choose nine Mazhilis members, will select 
its members on August 20.  Pursuant to the new constitutional and 
legislative changes, the Senate is empowered to act in the absence 
of the Mazhilis. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
... AFTER PARLIAMENT FINISHES REFORM LEGISLATION 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
4. (U) Although the texts of the amendments have not yet been 
published, there have been detailed press reports on the contents of 
the legislation signed June 19.  The revisions to the Law on the 
President track closely with the recent constitutional amendments 
(Ref D), confirming, for example, that the president's term in 
office will be reduced from seven to five years beginning in 2012, 
and that the president is no longer required to suspend his 
participation in a political party while serving as president.  The 
legislation confirms that the president can choose to dissolve only 
the Mazhilis; previously, the president was required to dissolve 
both the Senate and the Mazhilis. (Note: Under the new 
constitutional reforms, the Senate is empowered to assume all of the 
functions of parliament in the event of a temporary absence of the 
Mazhilis.  Senators are not directly elected; fifteen of the 47 
senators are to be appointed directly by the president; the 
remainder will be chosen by the presidentially-appointed regional 
akims.  End note.) 
 
5. (U) The revisions to the Law on the Cabinet are likewise nearly 
substantively identical to the recent constitutional amendments. 
The constitutional amendments opened the door for exceptions to the 
ban on Cabinet members holding other paid positions or engaging in 
entrepreneurial activities.  The revised Law on the Cabinet creates 
such an exception, allowing Cabinet members to be members of the 
managing or steering boards of commercial organizations. 
 
6. (U) The revisions to the Law on the Parliament and the Status of 
Its Members set forth in greater detail the role of political party 
factions in the Mazhilis, in addition to confirming the recent 
constitutional changes impacting the legislature.  Political party 
factions are permitted only in the Mazhilis, and will be led by 
members of the Mazhilis leadership.  The law also establishes 
procedures for parliament to express its consent to the appointment 
or dismissal of government officials, and sets forth operational 
procedures for the Senate to act in the absence of the Mazhilis. 
 
7. (U) The revisions to the Law on Elections set forth the election 
procedure in detail; the recent constitutional amendments removed 
these procedures from the Constitution.  As specified in the revised 
constitution, 98 of the 107 Mazhilis members will be elected under a 
party list system, while the remaining nine members will be chosen 
by the Assembly of Peoples of Kazakhstan.  The new law states that 
each party may nominate no more than 127 candidates.  The threshold 
to be represented in the Mazhilis is 7%.  Parties that pass that 
threshold will decide after the election
 which of their candidates 
will take seats in the Mazhilis; this decision may be made at a 
 
ASTANA 00001716  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
party congress or by the party's administration. 
 
8. (U) Political parties must file their list of candidates no more 
than two months and no less than 40 days before the election. 
Nomination of candidates by the Assembly of Peoples of Kazakhstan 
begins 15 days before and closes 10 days before the elections.  The 
law states that parties may not form electoral blocs to compete in 
elections.  (Note: Opposition party leaders claimed that this 
provision was added after True Ak Zhol and the National Social 
Democratic Party announced their intention to form an electoral bloc 
several weeks ago, Ref F.  Other observers say that electoral blocs 
should be avoided because they lead to instability in 
proportionally-elected legislatures.  End note.) 
 
9. (U) In addition, the revised Law on Elections states that a 
political party that won 7% or more of the vote in the previous 
election is exempt from the election fee; a party that won 5-7% of 
the votes in the previous election pays 50% of the election fee; and 
a party that won 3-5% of the vote pay 70% of the election fee. 
(Note: The election fee is 15 times the official minimum salary per 
candidate nominated; this year, the fee will be approximately $1200 
per candidate nominated.  End note.)  The law also states that the 
Central Election Commission will now issue absentee voting 
certificates; previously, this was the task of local election 
commissions.  The law also bans the participation of incumbent 
members of parliament, maslikhats, other local self-government 
authorities, presidential candidates, presidential candidate 
representatives, judges, or government officials from serving on 
election commissions. 
 
10. (U) Furthermore, the revised election law provides that parties 
that have no representatives on local election commissions may send 
representatives to participate with a right of "consultative vote"; 
such representatives may speak at meetings, initiate proposals, and 
protest election commission actions by filing a complaint to a 
higher level election commission or a court.  (Note: Opposition 
party leaders have been highly critical of the process for selecting 
election commission members, and are not satisfied with the above 
measure.  Refs E, G. End note.) 
 
11. (U) Finally, the revised Law on Elections specifies the status 
and powers of local and international election observers, reporters, 
and candidate representatives, though details on these provisions 
were not reported today. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
12. (SBU) The dissolution of the Mazhilis and the announcement of 
early elections came as no surprise, given the buzz around the 
capital in the last few weeks and the fact that new elections are 
necessary to implement the recent reforms and move toward a greater 
role for political parties.  Post will continue to monitor the 
situation closely as more details about the legislation signed June 
19 are published. 
 
ORDWAY

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