On March 3, the four candidates officially launched their campaigns for the April 3 early presidential election, after they fulfilled legal requirements, including the collection of signatures of at least one percent of registered voters and passing the Kazakh language test.
According to Kazakhstan’s Central Election Commission (CEC), which ended the registration of presidential candidates at midnight on March 2, 2011, the four candidates whose names will appear on the ballot, will include the incumbent, President Nursultan Nazarbayev representing the Nur Otan Party, Zhambyl Akhmetbekov from the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan (CPPK), Mels Yeleussizov from the Tabigat (Nature) Environmental Union, and Gani Kassymov, put forward by Kazakhstan Patriots’ Party.
A total of 11 candidates sought registration, including seven self-nominees. The CEC denied registration to four self-nominees for not presenting all necessary documents, while the remaining three candidates decided to withdraw from the race.
As announced on March 3, the CEC has established a public council to review information disputes in the early presidential elections scheduled for April 3. The public council is created to peer review information disputes arising during the pre-election campaign and is an advisory body to the CEC. The member of the Central Election Comission, Lyazzat Suleiman, heads the council.
Nursultan Nazarbayev was the first candidate registered by the CEC after having presented a total of 717,000 signatures. The incumbent President was born on July 6, 1940, in the Almaty Oblast. From 1960 to 1969, he worked at the Karaganda Metallurgical Combine, where he completed a technical college in 1967. Till 1979, Nazarbayev held various positions within the Karaganda Oblast Communist Party Committee, while from 1979-1990, he served as Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan (CCCPK), Chairman of the Kazakh SSR Council of Ministers, First Secretary of the CCCPK, and Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Kazakh SSR. In April 1990, Nazarbayev became Kazakhstan’s first President and remained so after winning all the following elections.
As it follows from Nazarbayev’s latest state-of-the-nation speech and his address at the 13th Nur Otan Congress, if elected, he aims to promote a new social policy that will lead to “high income, strong health, comfortable housing, and successful employment.” Nazarbayev promises to reduce the unemployment level to 5 percent in the following ten years and implement 294 investment projects by 2014 that will result in hundreds of thousands of new jobs. He also promises to improve the quality and accessibility of public health and education, as well as improve housing conditions. As for the economy, the incumbent will continue to promote its growth and seek to make Kazakhstan one of the most competitive countries in the world. Nazarbayev also foresees the continuation of political modernisation, while ensuring peace, tranquility, and security in the society. Last but not least, Nazarbayev asserts that Kazakhstan will continue to run a responsible and active foreign policy.
On March 3, Nazarbayev announced he will not be campaigning as such, deciding instead to focus on his day to day work.
Zhambyl Akhmetbekov was registered on February 26 following the handing over of 105,000 signatures. Akhmetbekov was born on February 11, 1961, in the former Tselinograd Oblast (present Akmola Oblast). In 1983, he graduated from the Agricultural Mechanization Faculty of the Tselinograd Agricultural Institute and worked as a farm mechanic. From 1987 to 1990, Akhmetbekov was an instructor of the ideological department of Kurgaldzhyn district’s Communist Party Committee and held different positions at the district administration up to 1998. In 1991 to 1994, he also studied at the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic Research. In 1998-2005, Akhmetbekov worked at the Akmola regional military lyceum and district education department. Since September 2005, he has been the Chief of Staff of the Central Committee of the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan. In March 2007, Akhmetbekov was elected Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party.
Akhmetbekov’s pre-election platform was approved at the 5th congress of the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan (CPPK) on February 14. With regards to the economy, the Party promises to ensure the transparency of state-run companies and nationalise the energy, petroleum, and mining industries, as well as the rail and air transport. The Party also proposes to limit the export of raw materials such as cotton, wool, hides, timber, and introduce quotas for the export of ferrous and nonferrous metals. The election programme also covers the eradication of corruption. “We will find a path of development in which natural and raw resources will fully contribute to the growth of economic power and wealth,” the election platform states. The Party calls for renouncing the policy of “economy first, politics second,” by saying that the economic transformation entirely derives from the political process.
The CEC registered Mels Yeleussizov and Gani Kassymov, who collected 97,830 and 99,728 signatures respectively, on the same day, February 28. Mels Yeleussizov was born in Almaty in 1950. After school, he served in the Soviet Army from 1968 to 1970 and worked as a flight attendant in the Almaty united squadron. In 1981, Yeleussizov graduated from the Law Faculty of the present Al-Farabi University in Almaty. In the 1982-1989, he worked as Deputy Director of the Production Association Zerger and senior engineer at a military farm. In 1989-1991, he was engaged in social activities within the Nevada-Semipalatinsk movement and Public Committee for Saving Aral and Lake Balkhash. From 1991 to present, Yeleussizov chairs the Environmental Union Tabigat (Nature). He ran for presidency in 2005 and won 0.28 percent of the vote.
Yeleussizov’s programme highlights efforts to develop an environmentally safe country, but also reflects the issues of democracy, economy, and culture. At a press conference in Almaty, where Yeleussizov announced his candidacy, he said that the main purpose of his participation in the election is to draw citizens’ attention to the environmental issues in Kazakhstan.
Gani Kassymov was born on May 3, 1950, in the Guriev city, present Atyrau, west Kazakhstan, in a family of teachers. In 1974, he graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations with a degree in international relations and began his career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kazakh SSR. In 1981, he became Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as of May 1990 served as adviser to the President of the Kazakh SSR. In 1992, Kassymov headed the International Department of the President’s Office. In 1994, he became Trade and Economic Representative of Kazakhstan in France. From 1996 to 2002, Kassymov was Chairman of Kazakhstan’s newly created State Customs Committee. In 1999, he ran for president and received about 4 percent of the vote. In 2007, Kassymov was appointed deputy of Senate of the Parliament by the President, as part of the presidential quota.
Kassymov’s election campaign is aimed primarily at improving the political and state structure. The pre-election platform is extensive and covers the political system and all that relates to government institutions, including the Parliament, political parties, and judicial and law enforcement bodies, Kassymov told the Khabar News Agency on March 3. He also considers it essential that the country has a Vice-President position. “I will propose suggestions and ideas with respect to what kind of government structure we should have. This will be related to political parties, social and political life in the country, and the Parliament,” Kassymov said.