07ASTANA1801, KAZAKHSTAN: MAZHILIS ELECTION ROUNDDUP, JULY 2

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA1801 2007-07-02 10:45 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO1004
RR RUEHAST RUEHDBU
DE RUEHTA #1801/01 1831045
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021045Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9957
INFO RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1770
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 8042
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 7944
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 7179
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 2164
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1423

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ASTANA 001801 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV OSCE KZ
 
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: MAZHILIS ELECTION ROUNDDUP, JULY 2 
 
1. (U) This is the first in a series of weekly election roundups in 
advance of Kazakhstan's August 18 Mazhilis and Maslikhat elections. 
Items were drawn primarily from the local press and media. 
 
--------------------------------------------- - 
Social Democratic Party and True Ak Zhol Merge 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
2. (U) On June 23 in Almaty two opposition parties, the Social 
Democratic Party and the True Ak Zhol, held congresses where the 
delegates supported the merger of the two parties.  They then 
conducted a joint meeting to discuss their forthcoming merger.  In 
their speeches the leaders of the parties, Zharmakhan Tuyakbay and 
Bolat Abilov, stressed they were merging not simply because of the 
upcoming elections to Mazhilis, but because their party platforms 
were very close and their intention was a long-term partnership. 
Both leaders expressed hope that the Communist Party of Kazakhstan 
and the unregistered Alga party would join their cause. 
 
3. (U) According to Marzhan Aspandiyarova, an activist of the True 
Ak Zhol party, this meeting was a preliminary joint meeting on the 
merger.   The next step will include similar meetings of the two 
parties' branches in every region of the country.  On July 7 the two 
parties will conduct a joint congress in Almaty.  This congress will 
elect the new party leadership and will nominate candidates for the 
party list.  Because the early elections to Mazhilis do not leave 
time for a formal merger, the new grouping will retain the name 
Social Democratic Party; members of True Ak Zhol will leave their 
party and formally join the Social Democrats. 
 
4. (U) The leader of the Communist Party, Serikbolsyn Abdildin, 
showed up at the meeting, but quickly left.   Some opposition 
activists suggested Abdildin was offended because he had not been 
given the floor.  According to Tolen Tokhtasynov, Abdildin's deputy, 
the Communists do not plan to join the new party. 
 
5. (U) The election law forbids two of the True Ak Zhol leaders, 
Bulat Abilov and Tulegen Zhukeyev, from running for Parliament. 
Abilov has a conviction record: on July 24, 2006 the city court of 
Temirtau gave Abilov a 3-year suspended sentence with two years of 
probation for insulting a police officer.  Tulegen Zhukeyev lived 
abroad from 1995 to 2003 as Kazakhstan's ambassador to Korea and 
Iran.  According to the recent constitutional amendments, a 
candidate for Mazhilis must have lived in Kazakhstan for the last 10 
years. Out of three co-chairmen of True Ak Zhol, only one, Oraz 
Zhandosov, has a chance to win a seat in the Mazhilis. 
 
---------- 
Alga Party 
---------- 
 
6. (U) According to a report in the June 21 "Taszhargan" weekly, 
Bulat Abilov and Tulegen Zhukeyev attended a recent meeting of the 
Alga leadership.  Abilov and Zhukeyev tried to persuade their 
comrades in arms "to consolidate their efforts," but failed. Alga's 
press service confirmed on June 22 that the party would not join the 
Social Democratic Party.  Fourteen out of seventeen regional 
branches of the party rejected the idea.  On June 20 the majority of 
the party political council also voted against convening a congress 
on the merger. Party leader Asylbek Kozhakhmetov spoke at the June 
23 Social Democratic Party / True Ak Zhol congresses.  Kozhakhmetov 
welcomed the new party, but gave no promise to join it.  According 
to opposition journalist Yermurat Bapi, there is a split in the 
Alga: Kozhakhmetov and a number of the party activists would like to 
join the new block, but influential banker Mukhtar Ablyazov, who 
finances Alga, is opposed. 
 
---------------------------------- 
Comments by analysts and reporters 
---------------------------------- 
 
7. (SBU) In a private conversation with a Pol FSN, journalist Ayan 
Sharipbayev of "Svoboda Slova" weekly said that according to his 
anonymous sources, President Nazarbayev assured Tuyakbay during 
their last meeting that a united opposition party would receive a 
certain number of seats in the Mazhilis.   The True Ak Zhol leaders 
then agreed to merge with the Social Democratic Party, as it is 
their only chance to survive and to have some representatives in 
Parliament.  According to Sharipbayev it was President Nazarbayev's 
idea to merge all opposition parties into one. 
 
8. (SBU) Recently, Zharmakhan Tuyakbay spoke about the Social 
Democratic Party's chances in the upcoming elections: "Even if 
 
ASTANA 00001801  002 OF 004 
 
 
administrative resources are used, we will get no less than 30% of 
the seats."   (Interfax, June 23).  However, political analyst Petr 
Svoik told Pol FSN on June 23 that the united opposition party may 
win only the minimum 7% required to obtain seats, which translates 
to six or seven seats in the Mazhilis. 
 
9. (U) Well-known opposition journalist Sergey Duvano
v discussed the 
merger of the opposition parties in an article on an opposition web 
site (www.kub.kz, June 22).   According to Duvanov, the authorities 
have an interest in the merger of opposition parties.  A year ago 
Nazarbayev mentioned that it was time to finish with the "flood" of 
opposition parties and that a matured political regime needs a 
two-party system. According to Duvanov, the Social Democratic Party 
is the most appropriate base for merging all opposition parties. 
The main opposition parties have agreed to recognize the current 
status of President Nazarbayev and agreed to a compromise which 
includes principles of constructive opposition and readiness to 
fight for power in Parliament.  This scenario suits President 
Nazarbayev, who in Duvanov's view can more easily control a few 
opposition members in the Mazhilis. 
 
10. (U) Political analyst Dosym Satpayev expects no political 
intrigue in the upcoming elections to Mazhilis.   (Nachnyen s 
Ponedelnika weekly, June 22-28)  The united opposition will compete 
not only with the presidential Nur Otan, but with the Ak Zhol and 
Adilet who also agreed to unite their efforts.  The opposition may 
get several seats in the Mazhilis, which will not allow them to 
influence Parliament.  Standing alone, neither the Social Democratic 
Party nor True Ak Zhol would overcome the 7% threshold.  They had to 
merge, because the law bans creating election blocs. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
Central Election Commission Preparations 
---------------------------------------- 
 
11. (SBU) After the elections were announced, the Central Election 
Commission (CEC) proceeded quickly with its preparations.  CEC 
member Marat Sarsembayev told Pol FSN that the CEC was well aware of 
the upcoming announcement and was prepared.  On June 21, the CEC 
issued a calendar for the elections.  June 22 was the first day when 
nomination of candidates to run in Mazhilis and Maslikhat elections 
could begin.  The CEC issued a press release explaining that 
candidates to be included on political party lists should be 
approved by the majority votes of the party's highest ruling 
council, and must be party members, citizens of Kazakhstan above 25 
years old, and have lived in Kazakhstan at least the last 10 years. 
Candidates judged by a court to be incapable, or candidates who 
served sentences in jail, are ineligible to run. Upon approval by 
the party's ruling council, the lists and records of its meeting 
must be filed with the CEC along with each candidate's application 
showing that he/she is willing to run in the elections. Candidates 
to maslikhats can be nominated by public organizations or individual 
citizens can self-nominate. 
 
12. (U) On June 25, the CEC issued rules on the format of 
information on political parties and candidates to maslikhats to be 
posted on bulletin boards in precincts, approved the forms of 
ballots including protection measures against forgery, and approved 
the form of voter lists. It also passed guidelines for issuance of 
absentee ballots; on accreditation of international observers, which 
is done through the MFA and must be completed by August 12; and on 
e-voting, which will be used in more than 1500 precincts (5% more 
than in 2005 elections). As in the past, the voters will be offered 
an option of selecting between the traditional voting by paper 
ballots and electronic voting. 
 
13. (U) The CEC cancelled a number of its old regulations and 
replaced them with new ones to make legislation comply with the 
recent amendments of the Constitution and the election law. For 
example, under the new system there are no circuit election 
commissions for the Mazhilis elections and no election blocs of 
political parties.  The CEC also increased the number of printed 
ballots, raising the reserve to 1% (compared to 0.1% in the past). 
 
--------------- 
Rules for Media 
--------------- 
 
14. (U) On June 22 and 27, the CEC held workshops for media 
representatives in Aktau and Almaty on election coverage.  The CEC 
stressed the need for equal and unbiased access to media sources for 
all political parties and candidates and objective coverage of the 
election campaign. According to the CEC, the media should not 
 
ASTANA 00001801  003 OF 004 
 
 
publish information which damages any candidate's honor, dignity and 
business reputation, calls for the overthrow of the constitutional 
order, or instigates racial or inter-ethnic hatred. If media 
reporters or editors run in the elections they must step down from 
performance of their official duties for the time of the campaign. 
 
15. (U) The CEC experts reminded media representatives that all 
media outlets interested in covering candidates' or political 
parties' election campaigns should post their prices for publication 
(broadcast) of campaign materials by July 2, and also send their 
pricelists to local election commissions and the CEC. Those media 
outlets that fail to meet this requirement will not be allowed to 
publish campaign materials. 
 
16. (U) The CEC said that information coming from election 
commissions should be treated as a priority and it should be 
delivered to readers and the audience quickly, without any delays. 
An example is the upcoming publication of the names of candidates on 
party lists: they must be published in the media by the legal 
deadline.  If necessary, newspapers must add supplementary pages to 
their regular format. 
 
-------------- 
Campaign Funds 
-------------- 
 
17. (U) During these workshops for the media, CEC expert Alma 
Omarova explained the rules for funding of political parties' 
election campaigns.  Political parties must pay for their 
candidates' campaigns, publications and media advertising out of 
their own election funds. These funds may be formed from two 
sources: the parties' own resources, and contributions by individual 
citizens and organizations. A candidate, however, cannot use his/her 
own resources. Expenditures from a political party's own fund cannot 
exceed 48,760,000 tenge ($400,000) and voluntary contributions 
cannot more exceed 97,520,000 tenge ($800,000). Thus the total 
amount of a political party's election fund shall not exceed 
146,280,000 tenge ($1,200,000) regardless of the number of 
candidates. Foreign support is banned.  Political parties may not 
fund their campaigns with any government resources.  The government, 
however, will give each political party an opportunity to 
participate in TV debates on one of the national TV channels.  The 
channel will be selected by the CEC. 
 
18. (U) Candidates for maslikhats may use the following resources: 
the government will provide a guaranteed minimum media coverage 
(15-minute presentation on TV, 10-minute presentation on radio, and 
2 articles in press); the candidate's own election fund which cannot 
exceed 975,200 tenge ($8,000) and voluntary contribu
tions not 
exceeding 2,925,600 tenge ($24,000). Candidates nominated by public 
organizations or political parties may get additional support from 
them in the amount of 1,950,400 tenge (about $16,000). 
 
--------------------------- 
Nur Otan Begins Its Campaign 
---------------------------- 
 
19. (U) National TV channels recently began broadcasting Nur Otan's 
public service announcements, programs and news items on the party's 
social support projects. The broadcasts were supplemented by 
numerous newspaper publications. One of its mostly widely covered 
projects was a train traveling around the country, stopping at small 
settlements where Nur Otan activists talked to people about 
political reforms and elections and offered various types of 
support: health check-ups, legal advice, musical performances, 
shows, and sports competitions. Another strong public relations 
project was State Secretary Kanat Saudabayev's tour of the regions 
with a group of former Mazhilis members. The purpose of the trip was 
to assess the social and political situation in regions on the eve 
of the upcoming elections and to explain the early dissolution of 
the Mazhilis and the importance of further democratic reform. 
Saudabayev visited Ust-Kamenogorsk, Atyrau, Aktau, and Southern 
Kazakhstan.  In his media interviews, Saudabayev said that people 
welcome President Nazarbayev's initiatives on further 
democratization and the upcoming Mazhilis elections which will 
demonstrate Kazakhstan's economic and political leadership. 
 
20. (U) Several well-known politicians recently joined Nur Otan. On 
June 25, Senate speaker Kasymzhomart Tokayev, Kazyna holding 
President Kairat Kelimbetov, and mayor of Almaty Imangali 
Tasmagambetov announced that they had joined Nur Otan. The next day, 
Chairman of the Airspace Agency Talgat Musabayev became a member of 
Nur Otan. In his interview with Kazakhstan TV channel, Musabayev 
 
ASTANA 00001801  004 OF 004 
 
 
said that he had always accomplished assignments given to him by the 
president, and would always do so in future. He said that he 
considered his Nur Otan membership as another assignment and he 
would try to accomplish it very successfully. 
 
21. (U) Khabar TV broadcast interviews and statements by government 
leaders, politicians, political observers, and rank and file people 
who were unanimous in their support of "President Nazarbayev's wise 
decisions on further democratization."  Kazpravda (6-23-07) 
published a collective letter of all employees of 
Sokolovsko-Sarbaiski mining factory stating that they all 
unanimously support amendments into the Constitution, the 
President's choice of the way of Kazakhstan's further development, 
and the new mechanism of Mazhilis elections.  The letter stated that 
all employees of the factory will support Nur-Otan's candidates in 
the Mazhilis and Maslikhat elections. 
 
22. (U) In addition, Kazakhstan's ethnic and cultural centers 
reported on their unanimous support of the early dissolution of the 
Mazhilis and the initiative to elect representatives of the 
Kazakhstan Peoples Assembly to the Mazhilis.  Nur Otan held 
conferences in the regions to pull their forces together and 
nominate candidates to Maslikhats and delegates to the upcoming 
party conference scheduled for July 4. 
 
23. (U) This flurry of activity led to criticism of Nur Otan for 
violation of the law which establishes the date when the parties may 
begin their election campaigns. Opposition parties accused the 
president's party of abusing the administrative resources and 
starting its campaign several months before announcement of the 
elections. Ualikhan Kaisarov, Director of the Astana office of True 
Ak Zhol, gave an interview to Channel 31 TV in which he criticized 
Nur Otan's powerful administrative influence, alleging that Nur Otan 
used this influence to begin broadcasting its PSAs and other 
information several months before the announcement of elections. He 
claimed that no media outlet would dare to run opposition parties' 
early advertisements. 
 
24. (U) However, the CEC does not see any violations of the law by 
Nur Otan: Deputy Chairman Vladimir Foos stated in a media interview 
that at this stage political parties can be considered as 
participants of the pre-electoral marathon. Political campaigning 
begins only after a party forwards its list of candidates and after 
the list is registered. According to Foos, under the law on 
advertisement and on political parties, the parties are free to 
advertise their activities now. 
 
MILAS

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