ASTANA – Past positive cooperation between Kazakhstan’s electoral authority and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers was recalled March 24 as Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) Kuandyk Turgankulov met with the head of the Election Observation Mission (EOM) from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Cornelia Jonker.
“We are open to cooperating with international observers and consider their engagement as a [welcome] contribution to securing transparency in the forthcoming election that raises [the level of] trust from all [those involved] in the election process,” said Turgankulov at the meeting.
According to a CEC press release, senior members of CEC and the EOM were also in attendance. Turgankulov briefed representatives from the latter on the CEC’s preparations to hold the early presidential election set for April 26 and key stages in the electoral campaign.
Jonker thanked the Kazakh side for inviting the OSCE to observe the election and expressed hope that EOM experts would establish close cooperation with the CEC staff. “We look forward to a positive and fruitful cooperation,” Jonker, who led several observation missions in the past to countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Serbia, said.
“There is an experience and practice of such an interaction,” agreed Turgankulov.
The CEC assured the OSCE experts that the government and electoral authorities had a shared goodwill to ensure the campaign proceeds in strict compliance with electoral law and high international standards.
Turgankulov said he looked forward to the EOM delivering an “honest and objective” observation of the election.
“I believe [in this regard] the interests of the mission, CEC and all those involved in the electoral process coincide,” he added.
Jonker, 48, was appointed last week to monitor the Kazakh election. According to the OSCE’s Warsaw-based Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), she studied speech therapy and worked as a speech therapist in the management of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service, combined with engagements in local and regional politics.
From 2004 to June 2010 Jonker was a member of the Dutch Parliament, chairing the committee on social affairs. Concurrently, she became a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), where she chaired the committee on migration, refugees and population. She has extensive election experience as a member of PACE observer committees and headed the PACE committee for the 2009 Albanian elections.
Jonker was the head of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission to Kyrgyzstan in 2010 and 2011 and the OSCE/ODIHR limited election observation mission to Serbia in 2012.
OSCE/ODIHR deployed its mission following an official invitation from Kazakhstan to observe the upcoming election, based on the findings and recommendations of the needs assessment mission that visited the country March 3-6. Since 1999 election observation missions have been deployed for Kazakhstan’s seven previous presidential and parliamentary elections.