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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05ALMATY2367
2005-06-24 04:26:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
US Office Almaty
Cable title:  

CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION SCHEDULES EXPERIMENTAL

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  KDEM  PHUM  PINR  KZ  POLITICAL 
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						UNCLAS  ALMATY 002367 

SIPDIS


STATE FOR EUR/CACEN (J. MUDGE) AND DRL/PHD (P. DAVIS, C.
KUCHTA-HELBLING)

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM PHUM PINR KZ POLITICAL
SUBJECT: CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION SCHEDULES EXPERIMENTAL
ELECTION OF DISTRICT AKIMS

REF: ALMATY



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Central Election Commission announced
on June 21 that four district akims will be chosen by local,
directly elected legislatures (maslikhats) on August 12.
This pattern mirrors the selection of national senators by
oblast level maslikhats (Reftel). Until now, akims had been
appointed by the President or the higher-level akim.
Political observers have long called for direct election of
akims as a key tool in dismantling government corruption.
These elections, though they will not be widespread and will
be subject to tight executive control, represent a small
concession towards greater local self-determination and
public accountability. END SUMMARY

BACKGROUND


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





2. (U) "Akim" is a generic Kazakh term denoting the leader
of a unit of government: from the oblast level, where akims
are roughly equivalent to state governors, to the aul
(village) level, where they are equivalent to small town
mayors. Each akim leads a local administration called an
akimat. District akims are a step down from oblast akims;
the position approximates that of a county executive. Until
now, all akims, from the oblast level down, have been
appointed by the President or a higher-level akim.

LOGISTICS


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





3. (U) On June 21, the Central Election Commission ("CEC")
announced that akims in four districts would be chosen by
direct election on August 12. The CEC is implementing
President Nazarbayev's decree of December 6, 2004, and his
February 2005 annual address to the nation, during which he
reiterated his support for local election of akims. The
districts selected for this trial are Yeskeldy district in
Almatinskaya Oblast in the southeastern part of the country
near Almaty; Kokpekty district in Eastern Kazakhstan Oblast;
Zhangaly district in the Western Kazakhstan Oblast; and
Timiriazev district in the Northern Kazakhstan Oblast. The
CEC was careful to choose one district from each corner of
the country. Akims in these districts will be elected for a
4-year term.



4. (U) The CEC has set the following schedule for the
experimental elections: oblast akims will nominate
candidates from June 27 to July 12; the CEC will register
eligible nominees from July 2 until July 17; and candidates
may actively campaign from the time of their registration
until midnight August 10. After the maslikhats vote on
August 12, district election commissions will register the
winner not later than August 16, and file election results
with the oblast akim who is to issue a formal order
appointing the elected akim.


BALANCE OF POWER: DISTRICT MASLIKHATS VERSUS OBLAST AKIMS


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



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





5. (SBU) By controlling the nomination process, oblast akims
and Astana still retain a significant hand in district akim
elections. However, the oblast akim does not appear to have
independent authority to override the final choice of the
maslikhat or to dismiss the district akim. The oblast akim
must obtain the maslikhat's approval to remove the district
akim, offering a small check on the oblast akim's power.

COMMENT


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





6. (SBU) The akimat structure has been heavily criticized by
the opposition and international observers as a quasi-feudal
system that encourages systematic corruption by government
officials. While not direct elections in the strictest
sense, the delegation of some power to local maslikhats
represents some concession to calls for greater public
accountability and local control over district-level
affairs. Moving away, however, from a top-down nomination
process will be a more difficult step, and Astana's leaders
will almost certainly proceed cautiously in further
loosening their grip on control of local affairs,


particularly in the wake of events in Uzbekistan and
Kyrgyzstan.



7. (U) Minimize for Dushanbe considered.

ORDWAY


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