Kazakhstan: Nazarbayev’s daughter becomes Senate speaker as Astana renamed after Nazarbayev

ASTANA (TCA) — Former President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter was elected speaker of Kazakhstan’s upper parliament house on March 20, a day after her father announced his resignation. Also on March 20, the Kazakh parliament approved renaming Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, to Nursultan after Nazarbayev.

Darigha Nazarbayeva, 55, was chosen in a unanimous vote by Senate members, hours after outgoing upper house chairman Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev was sworn in as interim president of the Central Asian country. Under the constitution, he is to remain in office until an election that is due to be held in April 2020.

Nazarbayeva has long been seen as a possible successor to her father, who is retaining his positions as head of the ruling Nur Otan party and lifetime chairman of the country’s Security Council, as well as his status as “Elbasy,” or leader of the nation, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reported.

The 78-year-old Nazarbayev, who had ruled since before the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and tolerated little dissent, is expected to continue to wield powerful influence in the country of 18.7 million.

Nazarbayeva has chaired the International Affairs, Defense, and Security Committee in the Senate since September 2016, and before that served as a deputy prime minister. She will now hold the No. 2 spot in Kazakhstan’s political hierarchy and would become acting president if the president were to die or become incapacitated.

Nazarbayev moved the capital of Kazakhstan from Almaty to Astana in 1997 and the windswept city on the steppe was built up substantially, making it a modernized symbol of his power.

Toqaev also proposed erecting a monument to Nazarbayev in the capital and naming central streets in every town and city in the country after him.

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Times of Central Asia