Kazakh Capital Renamed After President Resigns

After serving for almost 30 years, Nursultan Nazarbayev resigns from his position as Kazakhstan’s president. (Kremlin)

After serving for almost 30 years, Nursultan Nazarbayev resigns from his position as Kazakhstan’s president. (Kremlin)

Nursultan Nazarbayev, the 78-year-old former President of Kazakhstan, resigned on March 20 after serving in the country’s highest political office for almost 30 years, reports Eurasianet.

With little to no forewarning, Nazarbayev, in a televised address, publicly assured his citizens that the constitutionally sanctioned new leader, former Senate Speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, would carry out the rest of the presidency until April 2020. However, unlike the abrupt nature of the announcement, it seems that Nazarbayev’s retreat from political power will be quite gradual. In fact, Tokayev’s first action as the newly ordained president was to honor the former leader’s legacy by successfully changing the nation’s capital from Astana to Nazarbayev’s first name, Nursultan, reports the Diplomat.

Even without the title of president, Nazarbayev maintains immensely influential leadership roles in three bodies of utmost national political significance: the Security Council, the Samruk-Kazyna national wealth fund, and the ruling Nur Otan party. Through these positions, Nazarbayev has securely locked in his ability to sway both domestic and foreign policy goals. In addition, he retains his position as Leader of the Nation, or Elbasy, because of which he is granted certain benefits, including “lifelong immunity from criminal or civil prosecution for Nazarbayev and his family,” reports the Diplomat.

According to Eurasianet, one of Nazarbayev’s main objectives, in the short term at least, is “supporting the coming to power of a new generation of leaders,” the first of which is Tokayev himself, who arguably has been Nazarbayev’s closest political confidant and ally. Also moving up the political ladder is Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter, Dariga.

Moving forward, as the last Soviet-era leader steps down, Kazakhstan looks to—as Nazarbayev put it in his farewell address—cooperate “in the name of creating a modern democratic state,” reports the Diplomat.

Elections are tentatively planned for December 2020, says Eurasianet.