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Observers Say Kazakh Elections Flawed

20 September 2004 -- European observers say yesterday's parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan failed to meet international standards.

An observer mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the election "fell short of OSCE and Council of Europe standards in many respects."

Ihor Ostas, the head of the OSCE observer mission in Kazakhstan, the vice president of the organization's Parliamentary Assembly, said in Astana today that "a lack of transparency, when taking important decisions regarding the conduct of elections, was evident. Moreover, these decisions were not communicated in a timely and effective manner."

Meanwhile, the only opposition member in the country's Cabinet -- Information Minister Altynbek Sarsenbaev -- stepped down today in protest against how the election was conducted.

Election officials failed today to announce any results beyond early electronic tallies -- closing their office in the capital, Astana, at the end of the day without any explanation of when vote totals will be released. Final turnout was 56 percent of the 8.5 million eligible voters.

(RFE/RL/wire reports)