Cohen: Era of one-party politics in Kazakhstan is coming to end

Cohen: Era of one-party politics in Kazakhstan is coming to end

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan.10 / Trend, E.Tariverdiyeva /

Kazakhstan's ruling party Nur Otan will certainly dominate the next Parliament, Trend Expert Council member and Heritage Foundation expert on Russia, Eurasia and international energy policies Ariel Cohen believes.

"Ak Zhol will probably be close to 7 percent barrier but will be represented even if it gets less than 7 percent of votes," Cohen, who is in Kazakhstan as an international observer at the elections, said.

President Nazarbayev signed a decree to dissolve the Majilis and scheduled the early elections for Jan.15, 2012.

According to Cohen, the really interesting question is whether OSDP - United Social Democrats will get in.

"There are opinion both in favor and doubting their ability to gain representation in the Parliament. One thing is clear: the era of one-party politics in Kazakhstan is coming to an end," Cohen said.

He said it is unfortunate that those who provoked the violence in Zhanaozen delivered a heavy blow to Kazakh elections. The cancellation of the elections in Zhanaozen would be blow to the image of Kazakhstan as a reform leader in Eurasia and to the internal legitimacy of the ruling party, Cohen said.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev vetoed the Constitutional Council's decision on impossibility of holding elections in Zhanaozen in Mangistau region on Tuesday.

"The Kazakh President took into account Zhanaozen residents' concerns over the fact that the Constitutional Council's decision limits their voting rights stipulated by the country's Constitution and laws," the report regarding the President's veto says.

Mass riots hit the Kazakh oil town of Zhanaozen in the Mangistau region on Dec.16 killing 16 and injuring more than 100 people. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev declared a state of emergency in Zhanaozen until Jan. 31.

Cohen said there is more concern and foreboding in Kazakhstan as 2011 was a year of terror attacks and the tragedy in Zhanaozen. There is resentment of corruption and local authorities' inaptitude, he said.

"However, the people are not interested in a massive social upheaval. They don't want to end up like Kyrgyzstan. They understand that the challenge is political renewal and reform -- not rebellion, revolution, upheaval and destruction," Cohen believes.

He said it is up to the authorities to establish a real dialogue with the society in order to open new pathways for popular participation in the governance.

"This should include pathways to more transparency, responsibility, and the more participatory governance. There is not too much time left to achieve all this," he underscored.

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