International observers to monitor Kazakhstan election despite COVID challenge

File photo. Members of the election commission prepare a polling station for the upcoming presidential elections in the capital city of Nur-Sultan (formerly known as Astana), Kazakhstan, 8 June 2019. [Igor Kovalenko/EPA/EFE]

The Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan has completed the accreditation of observers of international organisations and foreign states for the 10 January elections, media in the Central Asian nation reported.

The election commission held a meeting on Monday (4 January) to deliver accreditations to international observers for the election of deputies to the lower chamber of Parliament (Mazhilis) and the House of local representatives (Maslikhats), scheduled for 10 January.

Kazakh authorities and commentators previously said the COVID-19 pandemic should not be an obstacle for holding the election, which is expected to further advance the soft democratic reform process currently ongoing in the Central Asian country.

Political scientist: COVID-19 will not become a brake for Kazakhstan election

Kazakhstan is holding parliamentary elections on 10 January, expected to further bolster the soft democratic reform process in the Central Asian country. In a wide-ranging interview, political scientist Mukhit-Ardager Sydyknazarov explained the political landscape and the stakes ahead of the ballot.

The meeting, which took place by video conference, was attended by representatives of political parties and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the specialised institution of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the regional intergovernmental organisation of nine post-Soviet republics in Eurasia.

In accordance with the country’s constitutional law, the accreditation of observers of foreign states and international organisations ends five days before voting day. In total, 398 observers were accredited for the elections, of which:

  • 322 observers from 10 international organisations: CIS Interparliamentary Assembly – 48; CIS Executive Committee – 179; Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – 4; OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights – 42; OSCE Parliamentary Assembly – 9; Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – 15; Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking States – 7; Parliamentary Assembly of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation – 7; Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-speaking countries – 9; EU Delegation to Kazakhstan – 2.
  • 76 observers from from 31 foreign states: Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Moldova, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Russia, Romania, India, Philippines, Hungary, Spain, Norway, France, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Estonia, Ukraine, Germany, Belgium, Palestine, Great Britain, Mongolia, Sweden, Canada, Finland.

The European Parliament was not mentioned in the official communication to the press.

'We have to be observers' in Kazakh elections, MEP says

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Parliament has yet to decide whether it will send observers to Kazakhstan’s parliamentary elections in January.

(Edited by Frédéric Simon)

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