Kazakhstan's leader Nazarbayev resigns after three decades in power

Kazakhstan's leader Nazarbayev resigns after three decades in power

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev announces his shock resignation on March 19, 2019, 29 years after taking office.

Many in Kazakhstan saw those changes as a sign that Nazarbaev was seeking to ensure that he would maintain his grip on power if he stepped down as president.

With the death of autocratic Uzbek President Islam Karimov in 2016, Nazarbaev became the only leader of a former Soviet republic to have held power since before the U.S.S.R. fell apart in 1991.

"I have made the decision to end my tenure as president", Nazarbayev said in a televised address.

According to Kazakhstan's constitution, the upper house speaker acts as head of state until a new president is elected.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has abruptly resigned after almost 30 years in office, but will continue to head the ruling party and keep his lifetime post as chairman of the influential Security Council.

The new acting president, 65-year-old Tokayev, is a Moscow-educated career diplomat fluent in Kazakh, Russian, English and Chinese who has previously served as Kazakhstan's foreign minister and prime minister.

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Thankfully, though, she's still carrying on with private events-such as the royal family's latest christening ceremony. Mr Arbiter says the "split" of Kensington Palace is nothing new for the Royal Family .

He has served as chairman of the Ministers' Council of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, chairman of the Supreme Council of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, and president of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. Tokayev is a former prime minister and foreign minister who also served as director-general of the United Nations office in Geneva between 2011 and 2013.

"This year I will have held the highest post for 30 years", said Nazarbaev, 78, who has headed the energy-rich country since before the Soviet collapse of 1991.

At the same time Nazarbayev said he will remain chairman of the Central Asian state's Security Council despite his resignation.

Uncertainty could also hurt investor appetite for Kazakhstan's biggest state-owned companies, which the government planned to list as part of a privatization campaign.

Nazarbayev, who won a 2015 election with nearly 98 percent of the vote, was widely expected to seek another term in 2020.

But the conduct of every election was criticised by foreign observers.

Nazarbayev's government pushed through a number of popular policies in recent months - including raising public-sector salaries and forcing utilities to cut and freeze tariffs - stoking speculation that he was preparing for a re-election bid.

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