The U.S. State Department on November 5 condemned Kazakhstan’s electoral commission for rejecting that day the candidacy of former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin for the early presidential elections of January 10, 1999 (Reuters, November 5).
The grounds for the rejection were that the former prime minister had attended an unsanctioned meeting in October. This year’s 8 May amendment to the electoral law includes the revision of Article 4, Point 4 whereby candidates “with a criminal record one year prior to registration” are forbidden from standing for public office (Kazakhstanskaya pravda [Almaty], May 9). The U.S. statement comes two days after the visit to Almaty by U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Stephen Sestanovich, who greeted President Nursultan Nazarbaev with personal messages from U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister, Kasymjomart Tokaev, assured Sestanovich that he would formally agree at a meeting of the OSCE in Oslo on December 2-3 to the OSCE opening an office in Kazakhstan.
To date, five candidates have registered their nomination with the Central Electoral Commission. These are: President Nursultan Nazarbaev, former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, Communist Party candidate Serikbolsyn Abdildin, independent candidate Engels Gabbasov and vice president of the Munai research and production center Zhaksybai Bazilbaev. The five come from the ruling elite (Nazarbaev), the counter-elite (Kazhegeldin, Gabbasov and Bazilbaev) and the opposition (Abdildin). The Central Electoral Commission stated this week that the decision to strike Kazhegeldin’s candidacy was not, however, definitive if Kazakhstan’s higher courts agreed to overrule the decision of Almaty’s district court, Medeu.–SC
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