New Kazakhstan will depend on collaboration between government and civil society, says human rights commissioner


NUR-SULTAN – Regardless of its outcome, the national referendum will not bring change overnight. The fate and future of the country will depend on the collaborative effort between the government and the citizens, Human Rights Commissioner Elvira Azimova said at a June 5 press briefing.

Azimova and Nourgaziyeva. Photo credit: Assel Satubaldina

Much will depend on the civic responsibility of citizens. “One of the main objectives [of the proposed amendments] is to improve human rights mechanisms. (…) The human rights commissioner must be more independent and not dependent on any institution or official, without pressure from others,” said Azimova, who holds the position of ombudsman for human rights. local man since September 2019.

The referendum, if successful, is just the start of a long process to get the changes into law.

“If the amendments are passed, there is still a lot of work to be done to implement the drafting of the laws. If we are talking about people’s confidence in the government, it is also a matter of responsibility. If we want to vote, it is our responsibility to make sure we exercise our right,” Azimova told the Astana Times.

Responsibility for building a new Kazakhstan is also a two-way street, Azimova noted.

“Active citizens who want to be heard are their responsibility. Every citizen must clearly be able to access accurate information from both the state and civil society,” she said.

Azimova noted that the referendum will encourage the development of civil society in Kazakhstan.

“It is very practical to observe. This referendum allows Kazakhstan to signal to itself and to other groups that we will not be passive and that civil activists must form an electorate of another quality, participating professionally in the promotion of interests and initiatives. Not just criticizing, but teaching a group of candidates for elective office,” Azimova said.

Banu Nurgaziyeva, chair of the Civil Alliance of Kazakhstan, a coalition of more than 3,000 NGOs in the country, said civic maturity is growing, especially among young people.

“The question of whether the company is mature or not is obsolete. The nation is we, the people, who have been waiting for change for a long time. I think the amendments, if passed, would strengthen local governance and as a public organization we will do our best for that,” Nurgaziyeva told the Astana Times. “Everyone wants change, positive change. And I hope they will happen.

In the afternoon, the Central Referendum Commission declared the referendum valid after more than 50% of the country’s population had voted.

At 8 p.m. local time, the turnout reached 67.65%. The results of the exit poll are expected to be announced at midnight.


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