Kazakhstan. In March, President Nursultan Nazarbayev
announced something unexpectedly his departure. Nazarbayev
had held the presidency since 1990. In 1991, Kazakhstan
became independent from the then Soviet Union, which
dissolved that year. According to
CountryAAH, Senate President Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev
took over as the country's president. Nazarbayev's daughter
Dariga Nazarbayeva was appointed Senate President after
Tokayev. The new president's first decision in March was to
rename the capital Astana to Nur-Sultan - after the resigned
president - and to appoint a new chief of staff, the prime
minister Baqytzjan Saghyntajev resigned in February.
At the June 9 presidential election - the first in 30
years - as expected, the beloved president's favorite
Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev won with 71% of the vote. In second
place was journalist Amirzhan Kosanov with just over 16% and
third place the country's first female presidential
candidate Daniya Jespajeva, who got just over 5%. The
official turnout was 77.5%. The election was criticized by
election observers from the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and protests against the
suspected election fraud erupted in Almaty and Nur-Sultan.
At least 4,000 people were arrested; close to 1,000 of them
were sentenced to prison, among others.
After the election, the new president presented his
agenda for the coming years - increased wages, improved
healthcare, the fight against widespread corruption, and
increased cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union
(EAEU) and the Russian Federation. To increase its
popularity, President Tokayev decided that the country's
poorest should have their debts written off. The decision
meant that around 250,000 people became debt free.
However, the shadow of the departed President Nursultan
Nazarbayev still rests over the country. Nazarbayev, for
example, has to be consulted on the establishment of key
posts within the government and government agencies,
including the country's counterpart to the Russian KGB, the
National Security Committee (KNB).