NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan, May 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Campaigning has officially begun for Kazakhstan's presidential election on June 9. It may not be the world's oldest or largest democracy, but this Central Asian country makes up with a wide range of candidates vying for the highest office. These include a science editor, a banker, a trade union leader, an opposition politician and a communist, apart from the incumbent, a career diplomat.
Seven candidates are standing in the election next month, more than the four candidates who stood for the US presidential election in 2016. That is also more than the three candidates who stood in Kazakhstan's last presidential election in 2015. There is a growing indication that this will be the freest and fairest election the country has seen.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is the candidate of the ruling party, Nur Otan. Fluent in Kazakh, Russian, English and Chinese, he has served as Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, and as a personal representative of the UN Secretary-General to the Conference on Disarmament, among other positions.
On Monday, Tokayev visited Ural'sk in West Kazakhstan as part of his campaign tour across the country's regions.
"Elections should be a new stage in the democratization of the Kazakhstani political system," the president said. "The Nur Otan party is in favor of openness, transparency of elections and strict adherence to democratic norms. It is of fundamental importance for the country that the elections be held honestly, openly and fairly."
Daniya Yespaeva, the candidate of the Ak Zhol party, is the first woman to run for president in Kazakhstan. The country has an impressive record in gender equality in politics. A quarter of the members of parliament are women, comparable to western countries Germany (30%) and United Kingdom (29%), and more than the United States (23.7%). Kazakhstan's Senate Chairperson, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Education and Science are also women.
Amirzhan Kosanov is an opposition candidate and journalist, and nominated by the Destiny of the Nation movement. He is touring north Kazakhstan and met with residents of Baiterek and Bulayevo in the last few days.
The remaining candidates are Sadybek Tugel, an editor nominated by the Eagles of the Great Steppe movement, Amangeldy Taspikhov, nominated by the Federation of Trade Unions, Zhambyl Akhmetbekov, a member of parliament for the Communist People's Party, and Toleutai Rakhimbekov, nominated by the Auyl (which means "village" in Kazakh) party.
The Central Election Commission said recently that they have invited more than 1,000 international observers from ten international organisations and foreign countries to monitor the election on June 9. These include the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This is likely to confirm that democracy has well and truly arrived in this part of Central Asia.
SOURCE National Association of Professional SMM and MMM Service Providers, Kazakhstan