Kazakhstan’s President Announces Resignation

ASTANA - Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced on Tuesday that he will step down after 30 years in power.

"I made a decision to resign as president," Nazarbayev, 78, said in his televised address to the nation. "This year marks 30 years since I assumed the post of the country’s supreme leader. I was given the honor by my great nation to become the first president of independent Kazakhstan," Nazarbayev said.

On February 15, Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council clarified Nazarbayev’s statement on Section 3 of Article 42 of the Constitution on a list of grounds for an early resignation. According to the council, the key law stipulates the right of the head of state to step down.

 At the same time Nazarbayev said he will remain chairman of the Central Asian state’s Security Council despite his resignation.

"In accordance with our laws, I’m given a status of the first president - the nation’s leader (elbasy in Kazakh), I will remain the Security Council’s chairman, who has serious powers to determine the country’s domestic and foreign policy in line with the laws," Nazarbayev said in his televised address to the nation.

Nazarbayev will also remain chairman of the Nur Otan Democratic People’s Party and a member of the Constitutional Council.

His duties will be performed by Senate Speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, from Nazarbayev’s Russia-friendly ruling party Nur Otan, until a new president is elected, according to RT.

Nazarbayev's acting replacement Tokayev has held various government posts, including those of foreign minister and prime minister, as well as having served as director-general of the UN office in Geneva.

The Kazakh leader said he would continue taking care about the country and the people. "As the founder of an independent Kazakh state, I see my future task in ensuring the assumption of power by a new generation of leaders, who will continue carrying out current reforms in the country," he stressed.

Nazarbayev has led Kazakhstan since 1989, when it was part of the Soviet Union. In 1990, Nazarbayev was elected as the nation’s first president.

Under Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan has become a key regional ally for Moscow, having established the Eurasian Trade Union together with Russia and Belarus. The union was later joined by Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

Kazakhstan gained visibility in the international arena in recent years by hosting the Astana process on Syria, in which Russia, Turkey and Iran have been agreeing on joint steps to help stabilize Syria.