Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, 79, is stepping down as the Central Asian nation’s president, the Kazakh leader announced on today.
The news may come as a surprise to some, but the Kazakh leader who has ruled the country for 30 years — since before the collapse of the Soviet Union — won’t be truly giving up power. Rumours about him preparing to officially step down while maintaining his grip on power have been circulating around the country for the past months.
Nazarbayev was exempted from a constitutional ban on serving more than two consecutive terms in 2007. In 2010, the parliament voted unanimously to declare him “Leader of the Nation” for life, which granted him powers to manage the country after his resignation.
He was also made the head of the country’s security council for life, last year. In February, Nazarbayev requested that the country’s Constitutional Council clarify what powers he would hold on leaving office, asking for an “official interpretation of paragraph 3 article 42 of the Constitution”.
“I have decided to terminate my powers as President,” Nazarbayev said in an unexpected public address on March 19.
“This year marks 30 years since I occupy the highest post. The people gave me the opportunity to be the first president of independent Kazakhstan,” he said.
According to the Constitution, the powers of the president of Kazakhstan for the remaining term will be transferred to the chairman of the Senate of Parliament, Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev.
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