More than Two Dozen Candidates Have Sought a Chance in Early Presidential Election

ASTANA – Whether self-nominated or named by political parties or organisations, more than 20 candidates have thrown their hats into the Kazakh presidential election ring, according to statements released March 13 by the Kazakh Central Election Commission (CEC).

The early presidential election, initiated by the Council of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan (APK), is scheduled for April 26. Nominations will be accepted until end of day March 15.

As reported earlier, incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev accepted the Nur Otan Party’s nomination March 11 and presented his policy priorities for another term should he be elected. His competition includes Turgun Syzdykov, who was chosen to run by the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan (CPPK).

Among the recent self-nominees is Abelgazy Kussainov, a 63-year-old native of the Karaganda region whose career has included various government positions. Kussainov was a member of the Kazakh Senate, Vice-Minister of Transport and Communications and Vice-Minister of Industry and Trade. In 2009, he headed the Ministry of Transport and Communications and three years later became Akim (Governor) of the Karaganda region. Since January 2013, Kussainov has chaired the country’s Federation of Trade Unions.

“The election is an opportunity to raise important social issues and to draw attention to vital problems of humanity, such as environmental issues and industrial safety. My big work and life experience convince me that we are underestimating the mentioned problems. That is why my goal in this election campaign is to raise these problems,” said Kussainov.

Self-nominated candidate Mels Yeleussizov, head of the Tabigat Ecological Union, noted that his decision to enter the field was made in order to draw attention to environmental problems.

“My main goal is to enlighten the population about the real situation with the environment. The politicians do not understand it. It is much more important than the economic crisis. I do not agree with the anti-crisis programme,” said the ecologist.

Talking about environmental issues, Yeleussizov mentioned global warming and saving the Aral Sea and Lake Balkhash, as well as storage of wastewater from Sorbulak Lake, which according to environmentalists can flood the surrounding settlements.Yeleussizov participated in the presidential elections of 2005 and 2011.

The Ak Zhol Democratic Party stated March 12 it will not nominate a candidate and will support Nazarbayev. The following day, the 13th Congress of the Party of Patriots of Kazakhstan (PPK) also decided to support Nazarbayev’s candidacy, with PPK leader Gani Kassymov joining his campaign.

“The Party of Patriots of Kazakhstan attaches great responsibility to the early presidential election scheduled for April 26, 2015 and expresses support for the nomination of the incumbent President Nazarbayev to the post of President of the country. His constant strategic course meets all statutory and strategic aspects of the Party of Patriots,” according to the party’s statement.

Zharylkap Kalybai, 55, editor-in-chief of the local Kazakh-language magazines Anyz Adam and Zhuldyzdar Otbasy, filed his application March 12 with the CEC. According to the commission, he became the 22nd contender for the presidency.

Candidates are tested for compliance with requirements and must pass the Kazakh language exam. Eight were denied presidential candidate status: two who were under the required age of 40 and six who failed the linguistic commission exam, said CEC Deputy Chairman Vladimir Foos.

On March 14, several more contenders submitted their paperwork to the CEC seeking registration as potential candidates driving the total numbers of such submitted applications to 25.

If nominees pass the requirements and the language exam they are then issued so called signature lists. By March 25 they will then have to collect more than 90,000 signatures in at least nine out of 14 oblasts (regions) of Kazakhstan and the two major cities of Astana and Almaty.

If a nominee succeeds in this and presents the signature lists to the CEC, he receives the official accreditation from the CEC as the presidential candidate and becomes eligible to mount an election campaign which will start on March 26.

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