08ASTANA1225, KAZAKHSTAN – ROUND TABLE ON POLITICAL PARTY LEGISLATION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA1225 2008-07-09 07:43 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO2541
OO RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHPW RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #1225 1910743
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 090743Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2714
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0557
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1928

UNCLAS ASTANA 001225 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM PREL KZ
 
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN - ROUND TABLE ON POLITICAL PARTY LEGISLATION 
 
1. Summary:  On July 1, the NDI and IRI organized a round-table on 
Kazakhstan's political party law which also included broader 
discussion of Kazakhstan's Madrid commitments.  All the major 
parties were represented, including the ruling Nur Otan party. 
Several participants presented concrete proposals on how to amend 
the current legislation to allow for easier party registration and 
greater political participation for opposition parties. Many 
expressed skepticism regarding the government's willingness to 
fulfill the Madrid commitments.  Nur Otan's representative claimed 
that draft amendments to the political party law were already in the 
works.  End Summary. 
 
2. On July 1, the DCM attended an NDI/IRI-organized roundtable on 
Kazakhstan's political party law.  The event brought together 
high-level representatives from major opposition parties, including 
Azat's Peter Svoik and Bulat Abishev, the un-registered Alga party's 
Vladimir Kozlov, OSDP's Serikbai Alibaev, Az Zhol's Burikhan 
Nurmukhamedov, the Communist Party's Serikbolsyn Abdildin, and 
Adilet's Tulegen Sadykov.  Nur Otan was represented by a mid-level 
legal advisor, Yuri Subchenkov.  The roundtable included NGOs, OSCE 
representatives, and members of several diplomatic missions. 
British Ambassador to Kazakhstan Paul Brummell and a British MP in 
Astana for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly session were both in 
attendance at the event. 
 
3. The majority of the participants agreed that Kazakhstan's 
political party legislation needs to be reformed.  Azat, OSDP, and 
Adilet suggested several concrete legislative amendments, including 
requiring only 5,000 signatures to set up a party, as opposed to the 
current 50,000.  They also suggested lowering the threshold for 
getting into the Mazhilis from 7 percent to 5 percent.  (Note: The 
threshold is set by the election law, not by the political party 
law. End Note.)  Alga's Kozlov added that the current rules make it 
easy for the government to suspend or refuse a party's registration. 
 (Note: Alga's registration has been pending for almost two years. 
End Note.)  Several speakers criticized the lack of transparency and 
objectivity in the Central Election Commission and called for reform 
of the local election commissions.  Not surprisingly, the discussion 
was laden with criticism of the ruling Nur Otan party, specifically 
for allegedly being too heavily involved in government policies, 
meddling with the opposition media, and interfering with freedom of 
assembly. 
 
4. Speaking more broadly, Azat's Svoik expressed skepticism that 
Kazakhstan's 2010 OSCE chairmanship will bring significant changes 
in terms of democratic reform.  He characterized Foreign Minister 
Tazhin's speech at Madrid as "mere words" meant to placate the 
international community and predicted that the government will not 
go further than making "cosmetic changes" to the legislation it 
committed to amend.  The Communist Party's Abdildin said the parties 
must demand that the government fulfill its Madrid commitments, and 
Alga's Kozlov added that the government must issue a schedule of 
implementation.  Several participants said that concrete legislative 
improvements to the political party law will only be made if the 
opposition parties are included in the working group tasked to work 
on it.  (Note: The round-table's final resolution, released on July 
3, included these demands, as well as a call on the OSCE to require 
fulfillment of the Madrid obligations.  End Note.) 
 
5. As the sole representative of the ruling Nur Otan party in 
attendance, Sabchenkov sounded a different note from the rest of the 
participants.  Referring to Nazarbayev's June 29 speech to the OSCE 
Parliamentary Assembly session in Astana (in which for the first 
time, Nazarbayev publicly discussed the Madrid commitments), 
Sabchenkov said that Nazarbayev has already tasked the government 
with amending the party legislation.  A new draft law was in the 
works, he claimed.  (Note: In a separate conversation, Deputy 
Minister of Justice Dulat Kustavletov informed us that while a 
working group on the political party law has not yet been convened, 
new draft legislation will be ready before the end of the year. End 
Note.)  Sabchenkov also contended that registration issues faced by 
some parties were the result of incompetence and corruption among 
low-level government workers, and not a concerted campaign on the 
part of Nur Otan to block unwanted competition.  His statements were 
met by open skepticism from the opposition. 
 
6. Comment:  Many of the proposals on amending the political party 
law that were put forward at the roundtable are well-known to the 
government.  Several had previously been made by NGOs and opposition 
parties, including the idea of requiring fewer signatures for 
registration.  End Comment. 
 
ORDWAY

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