Kazakhstan: Ex-president Nazarbayev rejects talk of shared power

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev (akorda.kz)

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — Kazakhstan’s former President Nursultan Nazarbayev used an extended interview on state television on October 11 to downplay his continuing influence and defer to his successor and generally praise his 29-year rule that ended earlier this year, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reported.

Nazarbayev, 79, traded the presidency for a less conspicuous but still enormously influential role in March, installing former speaker of the parliament’s Senate and ex-diplomat Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as his successor.

Nazarbayev still enjoys his bespoke “leader of the nation” title and its comforts, including immunity from prosecution.

He also presides over the powerful Security Council and chairs the long-ruling Nur Otan party.

He told his state Khabar TV interviewers that, while Tokayev “consults” him, there is “no justification” for speculation about “dual power” in Kazakhstan.

Nazarbayev said such “rumors were started by people who don’t want stability in Kazakhstan.” He added that Kazakhstan “is a unitary state with a presidential system of government.”

Tokayev, 66, was inaugurated as the country’s new president in June amid ongoing arrests of protesters challenging an election that was marred by what international observers called “widespread voting irregularities.”

Nazarbayev told Khabar that his decision to exit the presidency was “an absolutely well-thought-out step.”

“I think I did the right thing, and I don’t regret having done so or whom I picked as my successor,” he added.

None of the six elections that Nazarbayev won — most of them in massive landslides — was recognized as fair or democratic by Western standards.

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Times of Central Asia