Kazakhstan's interim president calls snap elections for June

A month after he stepped into the post of president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has called elections for June in the oil-rich Asian state. The power behind the presidency, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is involved in developments.

On Tuesday Kazakhstan's interim president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, said snap elections would be held on June 9, state news agency Kazinform reported.

Tokayev, a former parliamentary speaker, took up the presidential post after Nursultan Nazarbayev stepped down in March after nearly 30 years in power.

Following his departure, elections had been scheduled for next year, but Tokayev's announcement bumped them significantly forward.

Tokayev said there was a need to eliminate political uncertainty as he made a short statement on television. He also said he had consulted with Nazarbayev in deciding on the new date.

The resignation of 78-year-old Nazarbayev was something of a surprise, and he did not give a reason when he announced, "I have decided to end my duties as president." He has retained considerable power and now enjoys the title "Leader of the Nation."

A family concern

Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva, was unanimously elected speaker of the Senate when Tokayev was tapped as interim president following her father's resignation in March. Should anything happen to Tokayev, she would be first in line to take over the presidency. She is also considered to be a frontrunner for president, along with Tokayev.

While Nazarbayeva's former husband's exile and trial in 2007-2008 did cause some damage to her reputation, this is regarded by local commentators as a closed case. 

This gives Nazarbayev and his family a significant role in any future political developments in the oil-rich former Soviet state in central Asia — at least in finding an acceptable successor, perhaps a lesser-known member of their clan or a young outsider they can trust. 

jm/cmb (dpa, AFP)

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