08/20/2007, 00.00
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Elections, president’s party takes every available seat

The Nur-Otan party won all of the seats in the lower house elections, while the other parties failed to reach the minimum 7% entry level. Nazarbayev announces presidential reforms which will allow him to stay in power for life. The OSCE denounces a widespread lack of transparency.

Astana (AsiaNews/Agencies) – President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s Nur-Otan party won a landslide majority in parliamentary elections August 18th last.  The vote however is being contested by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (Osce), which denounces a lack of “transparency” in over 40% of polling stations under observation.

According to official data Nur-Otan obtained 88% of votes giving it an estimated 107 seats in the parliament’s lower chamber or Mazhilis. Opposition parties have also raised their voices in protest.  Ualikhan Kaisarov, leader of the national social democrats party, the main opposition party, complains that the elections “were completely violated” and that his party was not given adequate air time in televised pre-electoral programmes.  Burikhan Nurmukhamedov, leader of Ak Zhol, tells of out and out electoral fraud and insists that he received at least 12% of the vote, instead of the official 3.25%.

Nazarbayev – in power since 1989 – declared to crowds shortly after the victory, that now he aims to bring in “a new political system”; referring to pre-announced changes to the Constitution which should give greater power to parliament but at the same time eliminate limits on the term of office for the head of State; impossible under current law.

But the Osce’s comments on the widely predicted result are of importance. Nazarbayev declares that there is full freedom and democracy in the country and aims at the OSCE presidency in 2009.  For its part the OSCE praised the “calm atmosphere” of the elections which it says was assessed “positively” by observers. However it also says the vote count was assessed negatively in over 40% of polling stations visited, mainly due to “procedural problems and lack of transparency”. It also criticises the particularly high threshold - seven percent - needed to win parliamentary representation, and said the state media had favoured Nazarbayev's party.



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