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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05ALMATY1525
2005-04-15 12:46:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
US Office Almaty
Cable title:  

KAZAKHSTAN: ELECTION COMMISSION CHAIR, JUSTICE

Tags:   PGOV  PINR  KZ  POLITICAL 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS ALMATY 001525 

SIPDIS


DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CACEN

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR KZ POLITICAL
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: ELECTION COMMISSION CHAIR, JUSTICE
MINISTER SWITCH PLACES




1. (U) Summary: The GOK announced April 13 that Zagipa
Baliyeva, the long-serving chair of the Central Election
Commission, was stepping down from her position in advance
of the scheduled completion of her term in May. The
Parliament quickly approved the nomination of Justice
Minister Onalsyn Zhumabekov as her replacement. A day
later, the Presidential administration announced Baliyeva's
appointment as Minister of Justice. End Summary.



2. (SBU) Zagipa Yakhyanova Baliyeva (nee Iskakova), 46, has
served on Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission since
1995 and has chaired it since 1996. She administered the
1999 presidential election and parliamentary elections, as
well as the September 2004 elections to the lower house of
parliament. Baliyeva presided over the modernization of the
country's electoral system, most notably the introduction of
electronic voting in 2004. While some mechanisms of
election management improved during her tenure, the OSCE has
consistently found that elections in Kazakhstan do not meet
international standards. Baliyeva has not taken this
criticism well, and has harshly criticized the OSCE for a
lack of objectivity.



3. (SBU) Baliyeva is a lawyer by training. Her legal
practice consisted mostly of advising regional-level
government structures in the Kazakh SSR during the Soviet
period, as well as in the Almaty city administration
following independence.



4. (SBU) Onalysn Islamovich Zhumabekov, 56, was appointed
Minister of Justice in February 2003 after a long career in
the Procuracy of the Kazakh SSR and the Republic of
Kazakhstan. While certainly loyal to President Nazarbayev,
his reputation among lawyers in Kazakhstan is enhanced by
the perception that he is not associated with a particular
elite political clique. During his tenure, the Justice
Ministry has broadened its competence and influence, gaining
control of the judiciary, the prison system and the power to
review every single piece of legislation originating in the
Government, as well as all international agreements. As
Justice Minister, Zhumabekov was a reasonable, relatively
open-minded interlocutor for the USG. Though it has taken
time and close engagement, the Ministry has for example
become very cooperative in addressing U.S. concerns about
trafficking in persons. At the same time, concerns have
been raised over several recent initiatives to combat
extremism, which appear to be susceptible to abuse by the
authorities.



5. (SBU) The Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament)
overwhelmingly accepted Zhumabekov's nomination. Only one
member, Kazakh nationalist Amengeldy Aitaly, raised any
objection, insisting that Zhumabekov account for his
activities after the December 1986 mass protest in Almaty.
At the time, Zhumabekov was the deputy prosecutor of the
Almaty region. He responded that the Almaty city
authorities and the internal affairs authorities, not his
office, were responsible for any repressions that took place
after the disturbance.

Comment


--------------------------





6. (SBU) Baliyeva's departure did not come as a surprise.
She had served nearly ten years in the same job and her term
was due to end in May. Baliyeva seems not to have wanted to
continue in the chairmanship through the 2006 presidential
election. Given her often difficult relations with
international observers, the GOK probably calculates that a
new face at the CEC can only help its standing. Zhumabekov
may be that face, but he is also strongly associated with
the disappointing series of amendments to the election laws
recently approved by Parliament. Notably, Zhumabekov
reportedly declined to confirm the time of the next
Presidential election when questioned by the press after his
appointment. The GOK has repeatedly stated that the
presidential election will not be held until December 2006,
nearly eight years after the previous election, even though
the Kazakhstani constitution sets the President's term at
seven years.

ASQUINO


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