Tokayev replaces Nazarbayev as head of ruling Nur Otan party

Nur-Sultan, Jan 28 (EFE).- Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Friday replaced as chairman of the ruling Nur Otan party its founder and leader of the nation, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who handed over one of the last levers of power he still controlled in the Central Asian republic.

Tokayev, who has considerably strengthened his power since the unrest that broke out at the beginning of the year, was unanimously elected at the 21st party congress at Nazarbayev’s request.

Almost 400 delegates from all over the country took part in the meeting, although there were notable absences such as Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter, Dinara, former leader of the Nur Otan faction in the lower house of the Kazakh parliament (Mazhilis).

Nazarbayev, who founded Nur Otan in 1999, had anticipated months ago that he would cede the party chairmanship, but after the political crisis earlier this year some experts had predicted that Tokayev would dissolve the party after it lost support from many Kazakhs.

Tokayev on Friday stressed that the role of head of state was to ensure that all branches of power were accountable to the people, and he considered that the president should distance himself from the party, a status that should be enshrined in the constitution, he said.

“For this reason, in time, it is possible that by the end of this year, we will return to the issue of my position as the leader of Nur Otan,” he said during his speech.

In addition, he called for profound changes in the party not through a “cosmetic reboot” but through a “radical perestroika,” such as incorporating professionals whom people trust into the party.

“The position of a stone guest is inadmissible,” he said, after it became known that Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter had been removed from Nur Otan’s political council.

Pending the promised political reforms, experts believe that with the control of Nur Otan and the National Security Council two weeks ago, the transition of power that Nazarbayev had left unfinished when he handed over the presidency to Tokayev in 2019 has been accomplished.

In reference to the January riots, Tokayev insisted that terrorists “tried to seize power,” but promised that the investigation and prosecution of the culprits will proceed under his personal control and “only within the framework of the law.”

“We will absolutely respect human rights,” he stressed.

In addition to the official investigation, well-known lawyer and human rights advocate Aiman Umarova has proposed a public investigation commission and is preparing to collect material and testimonies on the riots, especially in Almaty, the largest city in the country and epicenter of the armed clashes.

Umarova told EFE that she witnessed the riots in the city’s main square, where she saw well-trained rioters in military-style clothing but were foreign looking.

“I asked them questions, but they did not answer me. They did not speak Kazakh,” she said.

In turn, Kazakhstan’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Elvira Azimova, said she had received complaints about mistreatment and abuse during the arrests made in the riots. EFE


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