Is Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev Signaling He’s About to Leave Office?
February 6 – Nurzultan Nazarbayev, 76, has taken an intriguing step suggesting
that he may be about to leave office: he has called on Kazakhstan’s
Constitutional Court to provide him with its interpretation about the paragraph
of that country’s constitution reagarding the bases for a president to leave
office before his term is out.
This is not
the first time rumors of his pending retirement have surfaced, and Andrey
Grozin, a specialist on Central Asia at Moscow’s Institute for the CIS
Countries, says it is “senseless” to speculate about Nazarbayev’s retirement
because when and how he lives is something that “depends on him alone.”
many in Kazakhstan suggest that the current president is preparing for “a
transition,” the Moscow analyst says that Nazarbayev’s request may be intended
to increase his options. At present, Kazakhstan’s basic law allows for a
departure from office only because of health or because of treason.He can’t leave simply because he wants to.
that Nazarbayev would not want to have to admit his health had deteriorated or
still more absurdly that he is guilty of treason, the Kazakhstan president may
simply want the court to hold that of course an incumbent leader can decide to
go on his own.Given that elections are
slated for 2020 and may be held this year (four of the last five presidential
votes there have been moved up), he may simply want to give himself more room
to Grozin, there are two possible scenarios. Either he will retire before the
presidential elections in December 2020 and transfer power to the head of the
Senate, becoming in effect “the senior leader” like Deng Xioping was in China,
or he will use his power to win the election and then hand off power and build
up a successor who will then assume office.