- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2004

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — The team of reformers who turned Kazakhstan’s moribund economy into Central Asia’s powerhouse yesterday denounced recent parliamentary elections as blatantly fraudulent.

The reformers, leaders of the opposition party Ak Zhol (Bright Path), called for the jailing of all the officials who they said took part in the rigging, from President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s chief of staff on down.

The reformers include a former security council chief and two former central bank governors who pushed through the measures in the 1990s that allowed the country’s economy to grow by 50 percent in five years.

At a press conference and in interviews, the Ak Zhol leaders said their reports showed that their party won 36 percent of the popular vote, although official figures released yesterday showed that Ak Zhol won 12 percent.

“We do not accept the result of these elections,” said former central banker Oraz Jandosov, who is one of only two Ak Zhol candidates who will face a government-backed opponent in a runoff on Oct. 3. According to the party’s tabulations, there should have been at least 12.

Altynbek Sarsenbayuli, the former security council chief, resigned as information minister after the Sunday vote, saying, “I cannot participate in a government that interfered in the voting and blatantly falsified the results.”

He said Imangali Tasmaganbetov, the president’s chief of staff, had managed the campaign for Otan, Mr. Nazarbayev’s party, in violation of a law that forbids government employees from engaging in partisan politics.

Mr. Sarsenbayuli said his party would file criminal charges against Mr. Tasmaganbetov and all the other officials who he said had worked to rig the election.

The vote came after Mr. Nazarbayev, under pressure from his own constituents and from the West, had accepted a new election law.

He had promised free and fair elections, and Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev had said that the vote would be a test for the country.

But according to 330 Western monitors supervised by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the elections were marred by voter intimidation, lack of access to the media for all but the most pro-government candidates and widespread violations of election laws.

Public opinion polls had given the Otan party between 33 percent and 41 percent of the vote, but the official results gave it 60 percent.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was that Asar, a group founded 10 months ago by the president’s elder daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva, officially received only 11 percent of the vote. Many had speculated that she was positioning herself to succeed her father, with his blessing.

Ms. Nazarbayeva, who controls most of the country’s television channels, said last week that she founded her party because Otan had degenerated into a support instrument for a corrupt bureaucracy.

She had predicted that Asar would get 40 percent of the vote. Her spokeswoman said she had no comment on the final results announced yesterday.

Analysts said Ak Zhol’s protest is not likely to have much effect, because it was not reported on any of the country’s television channels, even though more than 50 journalists and a half-dozen cameras were present.

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