Kazakhstan's multiparty parliament's first session

AP News
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Posted: Jan 20, 2012 2:29 AM
Kazakhstan's multiparty parliament's first session

Kazakhstan's newly elected parliament assembled for its first session Friday since an election that saw the president's party maintain its solid grip over the chamber.

Deputies from three parties were sworn in at an official ceremony that, however, does mark the end of the ruling Nur Otan party's monopolistic control of the Majlis, or lower house.

International election monitors say Sunday's election failed to meet the fundamental principles of a democratic vote and that authorities should have allowed more genuine opposition parties to participate.

Speaking at the opening of parliament, President Nursultan Nazarbayev hailed the election of a multiparty parliament as a new phase in former Soviet Central Asian nation's democratic development.

"We've set out on the path of democratic development," he said. "Competitive conditions will provide the opportunity to take informed decisions."

Nur Otan's commanding victory in the elections gave it control of 83 of the lower house's 107 seats.

The other parties with a small presence in parliament are the pro-business Ak Zhol and the People's Communist Party, which have eight and seven deputies respectively. Government critics say the parties largely follow the government line and do not represent solid opposition stances.

Nine deputies were appointed by a presidential advisory body.

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe expressed substantial misgivings over the conduct of the election, saying the vote count lacked transparency.

Kazakhstan said the assessment lacked balance, but that the government remained committed to cooperation with the OSCE.

In its first session, parliament reconfirmed Karim Masimov as prime minister, putting an end to speculation that President Nursultan Nazarbayev might appoint a new head of government.

Masimov has held his post since 2007, making him the country's longest-serving prime minister since the country gained independence in 1991.