BRUSSELS – The European Union said it expected Kazakhstan to address the irregularities detected by international observers in the presidential election won by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev last weekend with 71 percent of the vote, and the bloc hoped to continue to advance relations with the Central Asian country.
“In the light of the shortcomings reported by the OSCE/ODIHR Mission, we expect Kazakhstan to address these violations, as well as the controlled legal and political electoral framework, as they run counter to the country’s OSCE commitments and international obligations,” a spokesperson for EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
According to the preliminary results of the electoral observation mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, “the elections offered an important moment for possible political reforms,” the EU said.
“But it was tarnished by clear violations of fundamental freedoms, as well as pressure on critical voices,” the EU said, adding that “there were widespread detentions of peaceful protesters on election day.”
In general, the mission “recognized that elections were administered efficiently by the Central Electoral Commission,” although “significant irregularities were observed across the country,” the statement said, noting cases of ballot box stuffing, group voting and series of identical signatures on voter lists.
The count was also negatively assessed in more than half of the observations, the spokeswoman said.
In the context of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement that the bloc has with Kazakhstan, the EU said it was willing to “further support reforms to strengthen the promotion and protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights, the respect for democratic principles, the rule of law and good governance.”
In this regard, the EU said it hoped to work with Tokayev, “as well as to advance EU-Kazakhstan relations more broadly.”
Tokayev, in power in Kazakhstan since the resignation in March of the father of the nation, Nursultan Nazarbayev, received the support of 6.5 million voters, or more than half of the electorate.