June 26, 2019

Kazakhstan heads towards historic presidential elections

The Ambassador of Kazakhstan, H.E. Magzhan Ilyassov.

By Guido Lanfranchi.

Ahead of the historic 2019 presidential election in Kazakhstan, H.E. Magzhan Ilyassov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the Netherlands, commented on his country’s political transition. Praising the pacific and constitutional nature of such transition, the Ambassador hailed at the developments in Kazakhstan as a success story in Central Asia.

On March 19th, 2019, then-President Nursultan Nazarbayev caught many by surprise when he announced that, after thirty years spent as Kazakhstan’s leader, he would resign from the position of President of the Republic. Mr. Nazarbayev’s resignation kick-started a political transition in the country, with the Senate’s Chairman and former Prime Minister Kassym-Jomart Tokayev temporarily taking over the Presidency. Less than a month later, President Tokayev decided to call for anticipated presidential election, pointing at the need to eliminate any political uncertainty on the country’s future. This historic presidential election, to be held on June 9th, will therefore be the first election in the country’s history that will not feature Mr. Nazarbayev as a candidate. 

Less than three weeks ahead of the polls, H.E. Magzhan Ilyassov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, commented on the political transition ongoing in his country. Mr. Ilyassov hailed that Mr. Nazarbayev’s resignation has been handled in accordance to the country’s constitution, which stipulates that, in case of the President’s resignation, the interim Presidency shall be assigned to the Senate’s Chairman. 

Moreover, Ambassador Ilyassov praised President Tokayev’s decision of calling for early elections, stressing the President’s openness towards an open, democratic electoral process. The election will feature the presence of seven candidates, offering to the voters a range of options in terms of different political orientations – the Ambassador noted. Interim President Tokayev will be among the candidates, and for the first time in the country’s history a woman, Dania Yespayeva, will also run for the Presidency. Ambassador Ilyassov also clarified that, while Kazakh citizens will be free to cast their ballot as they wish, the government will strongly encourage all citizens, and especially the younger generations, to go to the polling stations on June 9th, in order to decide their country’s future.

With the aim of ensuring a level playing field, all candidates are being granted similar access to media and advertisement during the campaign – Ambassador Ilyassov stressed. Moreover, around 700 observers will be deployed across the country in order to ensure that the historic elections will be held according to the due standards. Around half of these observers are expected to come from a wide range of international organizations, including the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), as well as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

In particular, Ambassador Ilyassov praised the close cooperation between the Kazakh government and the OSCE. He noted that seventy percent of the recommendations issued by the OSCE electoral mission during the last elections have been implemented by the government. While explaining that the remaining thirty percent could not be implemented due to clashes with Kazakhstan’s constitution, the Ambassador voiced his country’s willingness to continue its close cooperation with the ODIHR OSCE, whose Director is expected to visit Kazakhstan on the occasion of the election as an observer.

The Ambassador also welcomed the strong interest expressed by international media platforms in covering Kazakhstan’s elections, announcing that around 50 agencies have already been applying for accreditation.

Ambassador Ilyassov also reassured the international community about Kazakhstan’s commitment to its international agreements and obligations, both at a multilateral and a bilateral level. Regardless of the election’s outcome – he announced – Kazakhstan will continue to pursue its “multi-vectoral, peaceful foreign policy”, including in its relations with neighboring countries in Central Asia. In particular, the Ambassador stressed Kazakhstan’s will to engage in deeper economic cooperation with its neighbors, welcoming the recent surge in Kazakh-Uzbek trade and the establishment of the International Center for Trade and Economic Cooperation at the border between the two countries.

As the whole country prepares for a historic election, other countries across the world stand ready to observe how Kazakhstan’s political transition will unfold in the upcoming months and years. 

Comments are closed.