The upcoming Kazakh national elections (Apr. 3rd) are not very likely to be rated free or fair due to a number of laws restricting press freedom and ability to run for office.
This should not come as a surprise, however, as the Central Asian country has never held an election deemed to be free and fair by international observers. President Nazarbayev (70), who has ruled the country since Soviet times, enjoys widespread public support, as evidenced by his lack of a campaign so close to the elections. While he has three opponents running against him, none have publicly criticized his policies.
While Pres. Nazarbayev oversaw market reforms that led to $150 billion in foreign investments in a country of 16.4 million, he has not allowed any hint of an opposition to form in Kazakhstan, strictly limited the freedom of speech.
Of the original 22 candidates who had initially come forward to challenge the President in the upcoming national elections, 5 failed the language test required to run for the office in Kazakhstan, 4 did not take the test, and 5 more withdrew before the registration deadline. According to the ODIHR (Office of Democratic Instutions and Human Rights – the election monitoring arm of the OSCE). Furthermore, how the test’s results are determined is unclear.
For the original article from sharenet (reporting from Reuters), please click here.