NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan’s interim President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called early elections on Tuesday to “clear all uncertainty” three weeks after the resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled this Central Asian country for almost 30 years.
“In accordance with the Constitution, I have decided to call early elections for the presidency of Kazakhstan on June 9,” Tokayev said in a televised message to the nation.
Tokayev said the decision to call the elections was made following consultations with the former president and Leader of the Nation, Nazarbayev.
“As head of state in office I guarantee that the elections will be held in a clean, transparent and fair manner,” he said.
Tokayev stressed that that the June polling was “absolutely necessary to guarantee political concord,” as well as to “clear all uncertainty.”
“In addition, the situation in the world is changing and not better for us, we must confirm the continuity, predictability and stability of our domestic and foreign policies,” he said.
As speaker of the Senate, Tokayev assumed the presidency of Kazakhstan on March 20 after the resignation of Nazarbayev.
In his inauguration speech, Tokayev stressed that the 78-year-old former president still holds the influential positions of chairman of the Security Council and the ruling Nur Otan Democratic People’s party, a clear message that the country would remain predictable and unchanged.
On top of that, in 2010, Nazarbayev was declared by the Parliament “Leader of the Nation,” a title that gives Nazarbayev weighty influence for life in all matters related to the country’s security and foreign and domestic policy.
According to the Kazakh Constitution, Tokayev was slated to serve as head of state until April 2020, when Nazarbayev’s term was due to end.
Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva, 55, was named Senate speaker after Tokayev took office.
That same day, the Kazakh Parliament amended the country’s constitution by unanimity to rename the capital Nur-sultan instead of Astana.
Nazarbayeva, a likely presidential candidate, has been actively involved in the country’s politics since 2003 when she founded the Asar party- 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.
She occupied her seat in the Senate on Sept. 15, 2016.