Kazakhstan: President Nazarbayev sacks Government over economic failures

ASTANA (TCA) — Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev late on February 21 dismissed the country’s Government, citing its failure to raise living standards of the population and diversify the economy away from the energy sector.

“In many areas of the economy, despite the adoption of many laws and government decisions, positive changes have not been achieved,” Nazarbayev said in a statement on the presidential website.

The long-ruling president cited the Government’s failure to raise real incomes for Kazakhs, to boost employment opportunities, or to improve living standards in a country that enjoys vast energy resources.

He also said small- and medium-sized businesses have not become a driving force for the Central Asian country’s economic growth as had been hoped.

The move comes amid growing protests across the country about living conditions for Kazakhs that were sparked by the deaths of five children of a single family when their home in Astana burned down, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reported.

The tragedy occurred while both parents were working overnight shifts to make ends meet.

The decision to sack the Government marks the end of 55-year-old Bakytzhan Sagintaev’s premiership, which started in 2016.

An order on the presidential website said Deputy Prime Minister Askar Mamin, 53, had been appointed as acting prime minister until a new Government can be formed.

Ahead of Nazarbayev’s address, Mamin called in a statement for a “more aggressive and proactive” policy to help the country boost its exports.

Nazarbayev said he would propose “a number of measures to strengthen social welfare and people’s quality of life” at a conference of his Nur Otan party on February 27, adding that “considerable funds” would be allocated to pay for the measures.

The 78-year-old president has been in power in energy-rich Kazakhstan since before the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Sergey Kwan