Nazarbayev daughter gets key post as Tokayev sworn in as Kazakhstan president

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Kassym-Jomart Tokayev assumed the post of Kazakhstan’s president on Wednesday following the surprise resignation of veteran leader Nursultan Nazarbayev after three decades in power.

Nazarbayev, 78, resigned late on Tuesday in what appeared to be the first step in a choreographed political transition that will see him retain considerable sway.

Tokayev, a 65-year-old career diplomat fluent in Russian, English and Chinese, will serve for the rest of the term which ends in April 2020, in line with the constitution. Tokayev on Wednesday proposed renaming the country’s capital in honor of ex-leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, a day after the longtime ruler’s shock resignation.

“I propose... naming the country's capital Astana in honour of the first president,” Tokayev said, suggesting the new name be “Nursultan”.

It remains unclear whether the Moscow-educated former prime minister will then run for the presidency. Nazarbayev praised him on Tuesday as “a man who can be trusted to lead Kazakhstan.”

Nazarbayev, who has no obvious long-term successor, had run the oil-rich Central Asian nation since 1989 when it was a Soviet republic, routinely winning elections with more than 90 percent of the vote.

Nazarbayev’s daughter

Kazakhstan’s new president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev handed the key post of senate speaker on Wednesday to a daughter of his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Dariga’s promotion – which was ex-speaker Tokayev’s first major move after being inaugurated – raises her profile as a potential successor. Under Kazakhstan’s constitution, the senate speaker assumes presidential powers in the event of the president’s resignation or death.

But country-watchers have considered his eldest daughter Dariga a succession candidate since she founded her own party in the 2000s – which later merged with Nazarbayev’s Nur Otan.

Nazarbayeva, a 55-year-old mother of three, has in the past led Kazakhstan’s main television station and served as a deputy prime minister, while also devoting time to her passion for opera – which she has performed publicly.

She made no mention of the upcoming elections in her brief acceptance speech on Wednesday. Another extended family member, Nazarbayev’s nephew Samat Abish, is also regarded as a candidate after his meteoric rise through the ranks of state security, where he has held the No.2 post since 2015. Abish, however, keeps a low public profile.

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