In a statement yesterday to the authorities and the public, President Nursultan Nazarbaev expressed concern over “some instances” of violation of the electoral law by state officials in the course of the current presidential election campaign. Although those violations “cannot seriously affect the overall course of campaign,” Nazarbaev warned officials that they could be prosecuted for violations of the electoral law. The president’s statement instructed all officials, “particularly at the local level,” to ensure equal conditions for the campaigns of all presidential candidates, to guarantee freedom of action for the domestic and international electoral observers, and to watch against unlawful interference with the work of local election commissions during the voting and the vote count (Kazakh TV, December 17).
Nazarbaev’s success in the January 10 presidential election may be taken virtually for granted and even as preprogrammed. However, the president may have reason for concern that overzealous local officials would unnecessarily obstruct the other candidates’ campaigns and inflate Nazarbaev’s victory margin to doubtful proportions. This seems to have happened in Azerbaijan’s presidential election last October, tarnishing President Haidar Aliev’s international image. The integrity of the Kazakh election has already been questioned by the OSCE and other international monitoring bodies. The OSCE will send only a reduced observer mission for the January election.
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