Kazakhstan’s Government Resigns Amidst Sweeping Reforms

Government House, Photo: @Primeminister.kz

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has dismissed the country’s government by signing a decree on its’ resignation. According to the Constitution of Kazakhstan, First Deputy Prime Minister Roman Sklyar will temporarily perform the duties of Prime Minister (PM). At the same time, all other ministers will continue to work in the same mode until the head of state approves the composition of the new government.

The resignation of former Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov’s government underscores a shift in Kazakhstan’s political scene. Smailov assumed office on January 11th, 2022, following public discontent that erupted into riots. During his tenure, many events transpired, but the most memorable for the population were serious problems with municipal heating in a number of regions; forest fires in the Kostanay and Abay regions; explosions at mines in the Karaganda region, and the earthquake in Almaty. All this evoked plenty of criticism regarding the composition of the government.

While the precise reasons behind the resignation remain undisclosed, it serves to highlight the dynamic nature of politics in Kazakhstan. Further details, including the process of this transition and potential candidates for the roles vacated, are expected in the next two days following an extended meeting of the government with the participation of Tokayev.

Prior to the government’s resignation, Tokayev had increasingly expressed dissatisfaction with progress in addressing socioeconomic issues and stagnation in general. Over the past two years, Tokayev has implemented sweeping reforms aimed at democratizing the country and breaking up economic monopolies.

“In Kazakhstan and in general, a change of government is perceived as a crisis phenomenon, but it is by no means a crisis phenomenon here,” said Director of the Eurasian Monitoring Center, Alibek Tazhibayev. “One should proceed from the fact that the economic and political situation is changing. Therefore, we can say that this government, which acted under the leadership of Alikhan Smailov for more than two years, coped with their key tasks. They had the main goal of passing deep-rooted reforms, holding a referendum, launching the mechanism of democratization, and implementing the concept of a ‘Listening State’.”

In a post on his Facebook account, Smailov expressed his “gratitude to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for his trust in heading the Kazakh government in such a difficult time. These two years were a turning point for the society,” he stated.