Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazabayev Resigns after 30 Years but Retains Power
Nazarbayer remains “Leader of the Nation”, Chairman of the National Security Council, and Chairman of the ruling political party.
Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, a former senior communist apparatchik from the Soviet Union, has resigned his post after holding it for more than 30 years but has retained a national security council job that harbors even more power.
Nazarbayev has been the only President so far of the independent Republic of Kazakhstan, today a country of 18 million people rich in oil and natural gas and the second largest successor state of the former Soviet Union by territory after Russia.
He became President of Kazakhstan, a Central Asian and Caspian country, in April 1990. In 2015, Nazarbayev was reelected President with 98% of the votes.
While remaining a close ally of post-Soviet Russia and of today’s Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Nazarbayev steered Kazakhstan towards independence through the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
In recently years, he has made moves such as approving the replacement of the Cyrillic alphabet with the Latin alphabet in the Kazakh language, and making promises for a transition towards a multi-power political system.
Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, in 1989, Nursultan Nazabayev became the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.
“I made a decision to resign as president,” Nazarbayev, 78, said in his televised address on Monday, as cited by Russian news agency Tass.
“This year marks 30 years since I assumed the post of the country’s supreme leader. I was given the honor by my great nation to become the first president of independent Kazakhstan,” Nazarbayev said.
His resignation was somewhat expected, after on February 15, Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council clarified a constitutional provision on the head of state’s right to early resignation.
Nazarbayev, however, made it clear he would remain chairman of Kazakhstan’s Security Council despite his resignation as President as he also holds the title of “Leader of the Nation”.
“In accordance with our laws, I’m given a status of the first president – the nation’s leader, I will remain the Security Council’s chairman, who has serious powers to determine the country’s domestic and foreign policy in line with the laws,” Nazarbayev said in his televised address to the nation.
Nazarbayev will also remain chairman of the ruling Nur Otan Democratic People’s Party and a member of the Constitutional Council.
In his speech, he vowed to keep taking good care of the country and people of Kazakstan, the Central Asian post-Soviet country which was probably best promoted in the West and around the world by comedian Sasha Barron Cohen’s 2006 film “Borat”.
The Kazakh leader said he would continue taking care about the country and the people of Kazakhstan.
“As the founder of an independent Kazakh state, I see my future task in ensuring the assumption of power by a new generation of leaders, who will continue carrying out current reforms in the country,” he stressed.
Under Kazakhstan’s Constitution, the Presidency is to be assumed temporarily by Senate Speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Russian media have been quick to quote Russian experts on the former Soviet space as saying that the scenario for Nursultan Nazarbayev’s resignation as President had been set last year when the powers of the Security Council Chairman were enhanced beyond those of the presidential post.
“There is no need to speculate about whether Nazarbayev’s actions will trigger changes in Kazakhstan’s policy course or a domestic upheaval,” expert Arkady Dubnov told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily, as cited by Tass.
“Nothing will change, including relations with Russia and other actors. Kazakhstan’s state architecture won’t change. There are no reasons for that. There is no opposition and any sort of conflict between cliques is insignificant,” Dubnov said.