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. 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.
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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).
According to CountryAAH, the population of Kazakhstan in 2019 was 18,551,316, ranking number 64 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.260% yearly, and the population density was 6.8717 people per km2.