Today, the ruling party of Kazakhstan elected Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as its new leader.
The move will further reduce the influence of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been the country’s dominant political figure for decades.
Tokayev was elected leader of the Nur-Otan party shortly after riots this month that killed more than 220 people and set fire to government buildings.
Nazarbayev, who has led Kazakhstan since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, resigned as head of state in 2019, but retained enormous influence as leader of the Nur-Otan party and as president of the National Security Council.
Tokayev replaced Nazarbayev as president of the Council during the riots, when many protesters shouted “Kick out the old man”, referring to the 81-year-old former president.
Nazarbayev announced in November that he would resign as party president, and Tokayev was elected leader at the party’s congress.
Mass demonstrations, which erupted in early January due to a sharp rise in fuel prices, quickly spread across the country, reflecting widespread public discontent over a steady decline in income, deteriorating living conditions and authoritarian rule.
Tokayev called for fundamental reforms aimed at reducing the state’s large-scale participation in the economy, bridging the gap between the rich minority and the poor majority, and eliminating potential causes for further turmoil.