Another Political Party on the Horizon in Kazakhstan?
Dr. Yerzhan Dosmukhamedov of the Atameken Union of Entrepreneurs and KazMunaiGaz
With the widespread talk about political reforms, and especially about the establishment of a parliamentary form of government chosen by a nationwide party-list vote, it is not surprising that the constellation of political parties in Kazakhstan is transforming once again. Earlier this summer, Zharmakhan Tuyakbai formed a social democratic party, and Dariga Nazarbayeva’s Asar party was combined with the ruling Otan party. It appears, however, that the changes in the political party scene of Kazakhstan may not be entirely over. For over a year now, Yerzhan Dosmukhamedov, member of the Board of Directors of the Atameken Union of Entrepreneurs and advisor to the president of KazMunaiGaz, has been suggesting that he plans to establish a political party that serves the interests of businesspeople in Kazakhstan. In the past week, Dr. Dosmukhamedov has been once again adopting a public profile concerning the idea of a political party. Early in the week, he held a press conference in Almaty with the participation of a representative of the coal miners’ unions, a representative of the “Movement to Save Shymkent’s Children from AIDs,” a representative of the “Volunteer Society of Disabled People of Kazakhstan,” and two other representatives of organizations supporting small and medium business interests in the country. Among other things, the press conference raised the question of Kazakhstan joining the European Convention on Human Rights, allowing for human rights cases related to Kazakhstan to be heard by the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg. Later in the week, Dr. Dosmukhamedov released a book in English in the United States entitled “Atameken: Building Democracy in Kazakhstan.” While the book is mostly a compilation of previous articles by and about Dr. Mukhamedov, its last chapter is a “Declaration of the Principles of the Centre Right Political Party of Kazakhstan.” It appears as if Dosmukhamedov may indeed be ready to unveil his party in the near future. While it is unlikely that this party would be closely associated with the opposition parties in the country, it may also attempt to distance itself from the ruling party, which is increasingly looking like a revival of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The question which is on most observers’ minds, of course, is whether this party would become a vehicle for Timur Kulibayev (who is also associated with Atameken and KazMunaiGaz) to be more directly involved in the political processes of Kazakhstan. If so, the party’s platform of reforms in the rule of law and of measures to combat corruption could have some powerful teeth behind it.