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CEC may become main player in presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan

The main event of the political season 2017 is still intriguing. The date of the presidential election had been questioned with the helping hand of Ata Meken faction. The name of the party’s candidate has not been voiced so far. The civil activists and some members of the Central Election Commission are concerned about the important question: will computer technologies affect the will of voters?

D-Day

The Parliament should finally determine date of presidential elections in May. The date that was previously announced by the Central Election Commission (November 19) was questioned by the Socialists.

Ata Meken believes that in the case of the second round of elections Almazbek Atambayev will not leave on December 1 and will remain on his post for another couple of months, and this is an illegitimate head of state.

SDPK faction dismisses all Ata Meken members' suspicions of the possible usurpation of power by its leader, but agrees with his opponents on setting a new election day.

At the suggestion of the Social Democrats, the elections can be scheduled for October 15. Their partners in the coalition of the majority — deputies from Kyrgyzstan faction — insist on an even earlier date. In their opinion, the optimal date for voting will be October 1.

One more and, perhaps, the main problem may be not the disputed date of the presidential election, but the use of the technical capabilities of the Central Election Commission in the interests of one of the candidates.

Server — under control

Manipulation with election results has long been a tradition in Kyrgyzstan — since its independence. Manual counting of votes provided great opportunities for pro-government candidates.

The CEC and the territorial election commissions simultaneously gave out the figures necessary for the government. The Central Election Commission was a key player in almost all elections.

The former head of the Accounting Chamber, Elmira Ibraimova, stated at a conference on the upcoming elections about the existence of a real threat of manipulation with the votes also with the help of computer technologies. She believes that the authorities can fully use the automated system of counting votes in their own interests.

The presidential candidate, ex-prime minister Temir Sariev, has already proposed to create a public commission to control the central server of the CEC. According to the well-known politician, such a move will make it possible to hold really transparent elections.

CEC as Caesar’s wife?

The Central Election Commission willingly participates in public dialogue. But there was no clear answer to the problematic issues from it so far.

During the conference on reforming the electoral process, held on April 21, participants heard mostly ambiguous answers. No explanation was given to the question whether an independent software audit of the data collection process from automatic ballot boxes on the central server was conducted by well-known foreign companies.

The CEC leadership only explained that the computer technologies provided by the South Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) were checked by specialists of the state-owned company Infocom, which is accountable to the government.

The CEC has already tested the new information and electoral system at the referendum held last December.

Opposition politicians, assessing its results, said that the figures necessary for the recognition of the referendum valid appeared not without the help of experienced programmers.

The active of Almazbek Atambayev

Almazbek Atambayev and SDPK had not yet publicly decided who would become a presidential candidate. In the environment of the president and among the Social Democrats, there is an internal primary election of politicians capable of replacing Atambayev.

The head of the presidential administration Sapar Isakov, Prime Minister Sooronbay Jeenbekov, the speaker of Parliament Chynybai Tursunbekov, the ex-chairman of CEC Tuigunaaly Abdraimov and even the leader of the SDPK faction Isa Omurkulov can join the pre-election race.

Almazbek Atamabayev has the name of another politician in the active, which he has not yet voiced even to his closest associates.

But the problem is that all the leading Social Democrats are at times behind in popularity to the neutral candidates Temir Sariev, Bakyt Torobaev and Omurbek Babanov.

Neither the administrative resource, nor the financial pressure on voters, nor the influence of the incumbent president can help the SDPK candidates in the fight with these well-known politicians.

Then, the Central Election Commission with its technical capabilities can step forward in the election campaign.

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