No major change in policy towards India after voluntary resignation of the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev

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Updated: Mar 20, 2019 6:41 PM

Since the same elite will continue to rule at least for some time, there will be no major change in policy towards India. However, some domestic political churning might take place before the presidential election in Kazakhstan next year.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan, Nur Otan, Kassym Tokayev, scoPresident Nursultan Nazarbayev was the last Soviet-era political heavyweight.

After being in power for over three decades, President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the last Soviet-era political heavyweight, of Kazakhstan stepped down voluntarily on Tuesday.

Though he will not be a president officially, Nazarbayev will still be holding three important posts including the Chairman of the Security Council; Head of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan; Member of the Constitutional Council. In addition, he remains as the Chairman of the ruling “Nur Otan (Light of the Motherland)” party.

Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU, says that, “President Nazarbayev announced his resignation after ruling Kazakhstan for nearly 30 years as the supreme leader. This is more like a voluntary retirement and facilitating a process of smooth transition of power. But he will still control the system as the Chairman of the powerful Security Council, the leader of the ruling party Nur Otan, and as ‘Leader of the Nation’.”

Since the same elite will continue to rule at least for some time, there will be no major change in policy towards India. However, some domestic political churning might take place before the presidential election in Kazakhstan next year, he adds.

“He has also appointed Kassym Tokayev as his successor, who as a loyalist is likely to continue the current policies of the government,” says Kumar.

“Kazakhstan witnessed stability and economic growth during Nazarbayev’s rule but political freedom was curtailed. Political and civic freedom remained an issue during his period. Given the control of the government over media and civil society, the space for the emergence of powerful opposition parties was non-existent. And this holds true for most of the Central Asian states except Kyrgyzstan,” points out Kumar.

Nazarbayev encouraged Chinese investments in the country especially under the Belt and Road Initiatives. He developed very close ties with China.

To a question if there will any change in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), according to Kumar, “There will be no major change.  The key drivers in SCO are China and Russia, and Kazakhstan at best has a secondary role.”

Commenting on the resignation of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to India Bulat Sarsenbayev said that “In accordance with the Constitution of Kazakhstan, the powers of the president for the remaining term are transferred to the Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan (upper house), Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev. The handing over of presidential powers will take place on March 20, at a joint meeting of the Chambers of the Parliament of Kazakhstan.”

The Kazakh envoy emphasised that there will be no change in the foreign policy of Astana remains unchanged and that Kazakhstan firmly committed to its international obligations.

According to him, over the years of Nazarbayev’s presidency the economy of Kazakhstan grew by 15 times, and household incomes by nine times, which made it possible to reduce the poverty level by almost 10 times.

“State borders are defined; the solid legislative basis has been created, the country’s banking and financial systems have been strengthened; adopted national currency; Kazakhstan has become known in the world as a stable, peaceful, tolerant and secular state with a fast-growing economy, and also received recognition from the international community through its foreign policy initiatives,” the envoy added.

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