ASTANA – The eldest daughter of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the former president of Kazakhstan who stepped down from the post after almost 30 years in power, was named speaker of the Senate on Wednesday.
Dariga Nazarbayeva’s nomination to take over the number two spot in the country’s political hierarchy was made public by the new Kazakh President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a couple of hours after he was sworn in and approved unanimously.
“First of all, I want to express with all my heart my deep gratitude to you for the trust you have placed in me,” Nazarbayeva said after her appointment.
She added that she was “fully aware of the role of Parliament in the political and social life of the country, especially at this crucial moment in its history.”
Her father, who resigned as president of the oil-rich central Asian state during a televised broadcast on Tuesday, had said Tokayev would take over as interim president until elections were held.
Later, the Kazakh Parliament amended the country’s constitution by unanimity to rename the capital Nursultan instead of Astana.
Nazarbayeva, 55, has been actively involved in the country’s politics since 2003 when she founded the party Asar – currently dissolved – with which she garnered a seat in the lower house.
Since then, she has held various positions: she was the chairperson of a parliamentary committee, deputy chairperson of the lower house of the legislature and deputy premier between 2015 and 2016.
On Sept. 15, 2016, the eldest of Nazarbayev’s three daughters occupied a seat in the Senate.
Tokayev was sworn in as president of Kazakhstan following the resignation the previous day of Nazarbayev.
Tokayev, who assumed the leadership of the State in his capacity as president of the Senate, took the oath in a plenary session of both Houses of Parliament.
“I solemnly vow to serve the people of Kazakhstan, strictly comply with the Constitution, guarantee the rights and freedoms of citizens and faithfully exercise the high responsibilities of President of the Republic of Kazakhstan entrusted to me,” the new president said.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that Kazakhstan’s policies will not change.
“We see the political events taking place in the neighboring country and our close ally,” Putin said, adding, “we express our hope that continuity will be guaranteed.”
According to the Kazakh Constitution, Tokayev is to serve as head of state until April 2020, when Nazarbayev’s term was due to end.
In his inauguration speech, the 65-year-old Kazakh leader stressed that Nazarbayev’s decision to resign was “a sign of his greatness as a politician of global and historical significance.”
“The Republic of Kazakhstan owes all its achievements and successes, and in particular its sacred independence, to Nursultan Abishevich (patronym) Nazarbayev,” he added.
Tokayev recalled that his predecessor, 78, holds the influential positions of chairman of the Security Council of Kazakhstan and the ruling party Nur Otan, a clear message that the country would remain predictable and unchanged.
On top of that, in 2010, he was declared by the Parliament “Leader of the Nation,” a title that gives him a weighty influence for life in all matters related to the country’s security and foreign and domestic policy.
“The opinion of ‘Elbasi’ (Leader of the Nation) will have priority importance in the development and adoption of measures of a strategic nature,” Tokayev said.
“I consider it essential to perpetuate the name of our great contemporary, the first president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, as follows: our capital must bear the name of our president and be called Nursultan,” Tokayev proposed.