Is Nazarbaev leaving?
Public discussion of transition of presidential power began in Kazakhstan, which will definetely happen, but will take some time. Chairman of the Senate of the Kazakh parliament Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev admitted in an interview with the BBC that head of state Nursultan Nazarbayev won't take part in the 2020 presidential election. "I don't believe that President Nazarbayev will participate in the 2020 presidential elections. Because he's a very wise and absolutely rational person. I think that we will have presidential elections with candidates other than President Nazarbaev in 2020," Tokayev said on June 20. According to him, Kazakhstan has achieved balance and stability, and continues to develop democracy.
Yesterday, after plenary session of the Senate, Tokayev specified that Nazarbayev has a final say in whether he will participate in elections or not. "We have Leader of the Nation, his status is confirmed by our laws. We recently passed a law on the Security Council. That's why regardless of whether he will participate in the next elections or not, he has final say when it comes to our domestic and foreign policy. This is dictated by law, he was and still is the leader of our nation," Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev said.
Minister of Information and Communications of Kazakhstan Dauren Abayev believes that there is still a lot of time until 2020. "We'll see what kind of situation will unfold in 2020, but in my opinion, as Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev correctly said, this decision will be made solely by head of state himself. My opinion as a person who worked directly with President for a pretty long time, taking into account his huge experience in politics, economics and international affairs, considering his international authority, I'm sure that Kazakhstan will only benefit if head of state participates in the 2020 elections," he stressed.
Topic of transition of power isn't new for Kazakhstan, it has been raised many times. But it's the first time when person who holds such high post says such things. According to experts, this is a message to Kazakh public and foreign policy partners. "It was obviously approved by Akorda (residence of the President of Kazakhstan). Broad public and leading foreign policy partners of Kazakhstan are clearly preparing for transition of presidential power, which will happen at a certain time," head of the "Alternative" analytical center Andrey Chebotarev said.
Nursultan Nazarbayev will celebrate his 78th birthday on July 6. He headed Kazakhstan since its formation, and become President following the first national elections on December 1, 1991. During last snap presidential election, held on April 26, 2015, Nazarbayev won for the fifth time, gaining almost 98% of votes. His term will end in April of 2020. According to the constitution, Nazarbayev, as the first President of Kazakhstan, can be elected to this post unlimited number of times.