Kazakhstan's leader resigns after almost 30 years in power
Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev declared in a shock announcement on March 19 that he was resigning with immediate effect, thereby bringing a close to his almost three decade-long rule over the Central Asian nation.
In a televised address to the nation, Nazarbayev said that the speaker of the Senate, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, would take over as head of state until presidential elections can be held. The next vote is scheduled to take place in December 2020.
“Tokayev is the very person that we can trust to manage Kazakhstan,” Nazarbayev said. “I know him well. He is an honest, responsible and dependable person.”
In his resignation speech, Nazarbayev took stock of what he said were the achievements of his decades running Kazakhstan.
“We put Kazakhstan on the map where there was never such a country,” said Nazarbayev.
There have been growing indications that Nazarbayev might be inching toward leaving the scene. Last month, he generated heated speculation when he addressed the Constitutional Council for guidance on how he might be able to go about relinquishing office and what powers he would retain were he to do so.
Even though he is stepping down as head of state, Nazarbayev will retain a wide-ranging degree of authority under his bespoke title of Leader of the Nation.
Also, parliament last May passed a law enabling Nazarbayev to remain head of the national Security Council for life. This provision was quickly approved by the constitutional court, enabling Nazarbayev to ease into the perpetual role on July 12, just days after his 78th birthday.