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OSCE observers to monitor elections in western Kazakhstan

January 12, 2012, 12:22 UTC+3

Soares said an important result of the meeting was the accord on sending OSCE observers to Zhanaozen

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ASTANA, January 12 (Itar-Tass) — The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe sent observers to the town of Zhanaozen in Kazakhstan to monitor the early parliamentary election in the republic on January 15, head of the monitoring mission Joao Soares said after a meeting with Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov on Thursday.

Soares said an important result of the meeting was the accord on sending OSCE observers to Zhanaozen.

The head of the mission expressed the hope that the authorities would ensure compete observation of human rights and freedoms in the course of the election, as Kazakhstan had promised during its OSCE presidency.

On Wednesday, chairman of the republic's Central Election Commission Kuandyk Turgankulov said "all international and domestic observers, as well as mass media representatives, will be allowed to monitor the elections in Zhanaozen."

According to Kazakhstan's CEC, more than 900 international observers will be monitoring the elections.

At present, seven political parties continue the election campaign. Politicians will take part in debates to be broadcast by the republic's channel Khabar on Thursday.

Initially, the authorities banned voting in Zhanaozen which is under curfew, following disturbances last December.

On December 16, when Kazakhstan was marking the 20th anniversary of its independence, 16 people were killed in mass disturbances in Zhanaozen, in which dismissed personnel of oil companies participated. Dozens of other people were injured.

More than 40 buildings were looted and torched. On December 17, Nazarbayev introduced a state of emergency in the town. It will continue until the end of the month. Other restrictions imposed on the area include curfew and limited traffic. The authorities prohibited photographing, videoing and the use of copiers.

On January 6, the Constitutional Court ruled that the election to the lower house of the parliament, set for January 15, could not be held in Zhanaozen, because of the state of emergency there.

However, the head of state vetoed the Court's ruling, expressing "concerns of Zhanaozen residents over the fact that the Court's decision restricts their voting rights, envisioned by the Constitution and the country’s law."

Under national legislation, the Constitutional Court can overcome the president’s objections by two-thirds of votes, and if the veto is not overcome, its ruling is invalid.

In a voting earlier this week, the Constitutional Court failed to overcome the president's veto.

CEC's deputy chairman Vladimir Foos said "all the voting stations in the town are ready. The elections there will not differ from elsewhere in the country, but for the restrictions introduced by the decree on the state of emergency."

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