Nursultan Nazarbayev, longest-serving post-Soviet leader, passes away

Nursultan Nazarbayev, the longest-serving post-Soviet leader, has unexpectedly resigned as president of Kazakhstan after 29 years in power in a surprise public address on national television. But, he would remain the chairman of the country’s powerful security council, the leader of the Nur Otan party, which dominates parliament, and his official title as “The Leader of the Nation”. The move comes on the back of growing social discontent and an economy still recovering from an oil price plunge in 2014. Western sanctions against Russia, a key trading partner, have also hit the economy. Known as “Papa” to many Kazakhs, Nazarbayev has ruled the vast oil and gas-rich Central Asian nation since 1989, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. He has been Kazakhstan’s President since 1990 and was formally elected in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, speaker of the upper house of parliament, will take over as Kazakhstan’s acting president for the remainder of his term in line with the constitution.

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