Kazakhstan’s lower house of parliament called for a snap election on January 13, setting the stage for a vexed vote against the backdrop of chronic economic uncertainty.
The early dissolution of the Mazhilis had been widely predicted as President Nursultan Nazarbayev seeks to refresh the mandate for his ruling Nur Otan party.
“The Mazhilis has fulfilled its historic mission, creating the legislative basis for the implementation of the Plan of the Nation,” Vladislav Kosarev of the pro-government Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan said in a statement read out in parliament and quoted by Kazinform news agency.
He was referring to a reform agenda unveiled by Nazarbayev last year that is intended to reverse an economic slowdown provoked in large part by the slump in the price for oil.
“Now that a new historic period is getting under way and the large-scale modernization of the country and practical implementation of presidential reforms in all areas are beginning, it is important that parties receive a new mandate of trust from voters,” Kosarev said.
Kosarev said that “broad social consolidation” was required to implement anti-crisis measures, since “only unity and coordinated actions will allow us to withstand fresh economic blows.”
The snap vote must be approved by Nazarbayev, which is expected to be a formality, and is expected in spring. Under the current schedule, the election had been due to take place in early 2017.
Despite talk of a fresh mandate, it is likely the authorities are also motivated by a desire to complete the electoral process ahead of time to head off any discontent provoked by the economic downturn.
The German news weekly Der Spiegel has a provocative analysis piece in its January 14 issue that takes a crowbar to Kazakhstan, denting the Central Asian state’s image for political and social stability.
The piece – titled “Corrupt-i-stan: Kazakh Massacre Fuels Rising Mistrust” – is an in-depth look at the trial of Vladislav Chelakh, who was convicted this past December of murdering 14 fellow border guards and a bystander in May of 2012. It dwells on inconsistencies in the state’s version of events, and notes that Chelakh’s attorney faced daunting obstacles in trying to mount a defense. ”The court had no evidence, no motive and no witnesses,” the article adds.
What is perhaps the most damning aspect of the article, in terms of its portrayal of Kazakhstani authorities, is reporting about how many Kazakhstani citizens no longer believe what the government is telling them. The consensus on the street, the article implies, is that high-level corruption played a role in the border post massacre, and Chelakh is merely the fall guy.
The article can be found in both German and English. It’s worth the time to read it through.
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