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Kazakhstan sets parliamentary elections for January 2021

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Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed a decree scheduling Majilis elections for 10 January 2021, reported Akorda press service, writes Assel Satubaldina.

Majilis is the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament consisting of 107 deputies, who are elected for a five-year term.

The previous elections were held in March 2016. Six political parties participated in the elections and three of them including Nur Otan (82.2%), Ak Zhol Democratic Party of Kazakhstan (7.18%), the Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan (7.14%), received more than 7% of the votes and won the right to delegate their deputies to the chamber.

Currently, the Nur Otan party has a majority of 84 deputies in the Majilis, the Ak Zhol and the Communist People’s party have seven deputies each.

Nine deputies are elected from the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan, an advisory body under the President of Kazakhstan whose members are drawn from organizations representing major ethnic communities living in Kazakhstan.

“All political parties had time to prepare for the upcoming election campaign, develop an election platform, and enhance party infrastructure. The Central Election Commission and the Prosecutor General’s Office will continuously monitor the legality, transparency, and fairness of elections,” said Tokayev in his address.

He emphasized the reforms he has undertaken since he stepped into the presidential office in June 2019, including the introduction of a parliamentary opposition institute.

“One chair and two secretaries of the Majilis standing committees will now be elected from the members of the parliamentary opposition. In addition, the parliamentary opposition will have the right to initiate parliamentary hearings at least once during one session and to set the agenda for the government hour at least twice during one session,” said the Kazakh president.

In 2019, Tokayev signed the decree that introduced a mandatory 30 percent quota for women and young people in party lists in an effort to increase their voice in the decision-making process.

The next elections to maslikhats (representative local authority bodies) will for the first time be held based on party lists, which according to Tokayev will “enable parties to strengthen their position in the country’s political system.”

In August, seventeen Senate deputies from the nation’s 14 regions and cities of Nur-Sultan, Almaty and Shymkent were elected to the Senate, the upper chamber of the Kazakh parliament.

The renewed composition of the Kazakh parliament, noted Tokayev, will focus on “quality legislative support for social and economic reforms in the country”.

“The serious economic crisis stemming from the coronavirus pandemic has affected many countries and adversely impacted the entire global economy. At these challenging times, Kazakhstan has to take effective anti-crisis measures, ensuring sustainable economic development, social wellbeing of our citizens, and improving the well-being of the people,” said Tokayev, encouraging all citizens to take part in the upcoming elections.

Afghanistan

2020 Afghanistan Conference: Sustainable peace, anti-corruption and aid effectiveness on the agenda

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The 2020 Afghanistan Conference kicks begins today (23 November) with the EU co-organizing and participating in number of events taking place ahead of tomorrow's (24 November) plenary session. Crisis Management Commissioner  Janez Lenarčič will co-chair, together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan Mohammad Haneef Atmar an event on sustainable peace (livestream available), with a focus on promoting human rights and empowering women, and also on refugees and returnees.

International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen will deliver a speech at an event on anti-corruption and good governance, and in doing so will emphasize the EU's expectation that the Afghan government delivers on its reform agenda. EU officials will also participate in a third side event taking place ahead of the conference, on aid effectiveness.

Tomorrow, EU High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell will deliver a speech at the opening session of the conference, when he will outline the EU's position on the ongoing intra-Afghan peace negotiations, as well as the conditions for the EU's support, which were presented in a recent paper co-authored with key international donors.

Later, Commissioner Urpilainen will deliver the EU's financial assistance pledge at the conference. Both interventions will be available on EbS. More information on EU-Afghanistan relations is available in a dedicated factsheet and on the website of the EU Delegation in Kabul.

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EU

Stop violence against women: Statement by the European Commission and the High Representative

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Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, the European Commission and High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell (pictured) issued the following statement: “Violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights, and has no place in the European Union, or anywhere else in the world. The scale of the problem remains alarming: one in three women in the European Union have experienced physical and/or sexual violence. Violence against women exists in every country, culture and community.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has shown once more that for some women not even their home is a safe place. Change is possible, but it requires action, commitment and determination. The EU is committed to continue to work tirelessly with its partners to investigate and punish acts of violence, ensure support for victims, and at the same time to address the root causes and reinforce the legal framework.

"Through our Spotlight Initiative we are already fighting violence against women and girls, in 26 countries across the globe. This week we will present a new Action Plan on gender equality and women and girl's empowerment in our external actions. We also call on member states to ratify the Istanbul Convention - the first legally binding instrument at the international level to combat violence against women and domestic violence. Our goal is very clear: to end all forms of violence against women and girls. We owe it to all the victims.”

The full statement and the factsheet are available online.

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coronavirus

Coronavirus: Commission to provide 200 disinfection robots to European hospitals

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As part of its continued efforts to tackle the spread of coronavirus and provide member states with necessary equipment, the Commission launched the purchase of 200 disinfection robots that will be delivered to hospitals across Europe. Overall, a dedicated budget of up to €12 million is available from the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI). Hospitals from most Member States expressed a need and interest in receiving these robots, which can disinfect standard patient rooms, using ultraviolet light, in as quickly as 15 minutes, and thus help prevent and reduce the spread of the virus. The process is controlled by an operator, who will be located outside of the space to be disinfected, in order to avoid any exposure to the UV light.

Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said: “Developing technologies can set up forces of change and we see a good example of this in the disinfection robots. I welcome this action to help our hospitals in Europe reduce the risk of infection – an important step in containing the spread of coronavirus.” Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, added: “Europe has remained resilient and solidary during the current crisis. From repatriating EU citizens stranded abroad to increasing the production of masks and ensuring that medical equipment reaches those who need it within the single market, we are acting to protect our citizens. Now we are deploying disinfection robots in hospitals so that our citizens can benefit from this potentially life-saving technology.”

The robots are expected to be delivered in the coming weeks.

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