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Kazakhstan’s interim president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, right, and outgoing president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, after an inauguration ceremony in Astana, Kazakhstan, March 20, 2019 (AP photo).

What’s Behind Nazarbayev’s Surprise Resignation ‘Ruse’ in Kazakhstan?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, resigned from office March 20, stunning the nation and the region. For many Kazakhstanis, Nazarbayev is the only leader they remember. At age 78, he had ruled for three decades and was the last remaining Soviet-era leader still at the helm of a former Soviet country.

In his inaugural address, Kazakhstan’s new acting president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a former foreign minister and speaker of the Kazakh Senate, praised Nazarbayev’s leadership and called for the capital city to be renamed “Nursultan” in his honor. Dariga Nazarbayeva, Nazarbayev’s daughter, took up Tokayev’s former position in the Senate, officially putting her in the line of succession. Her elevation certainly enhances the chances that she could become her father’s long-term successor, although many Nazarbayev loyalists remain in the running. Given the opacity of Kazakhstan’s politics, it is not clear how this transition will play out. ...

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