Kazakh leader rejects succession plan

A possible change of leadership in Central Asia's biggest economy and oil producer is a worry for foreign investors already alarmed by the government's increasingly assertive oil diplomacy.

Kazakh leader rejects succession plan
Kazakhstan's long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev said on Friday he intended to stay in power "for a long time", dismissing speculation about a possible succession plan.

The 67-year-old leader, who has ruled the oil-rich Central Asian state since 1989, stirred talk about a potential successor this year after saying he did not plan to stay in power forever.

But on Friday, Nazarbayev told reporters he had no intention of leaving any time soon.

"All the talk about a successor is just gossip. There are no successors," he said. "I am not going anywhere yet. ... We are going to work for a long time to come."

A possible change of leadership in Central Asia's biggest economy and oil producer is a worry for foreign investors already alarmed by the government's increasingly assertive oil diplomacy.

Nazarbayev has been tightening his grip on power in past years, securing the right to run for office indefinitely and holding a snap parliamentary election which handed his political party all the seats in the lower house.

He had told Reuters in an interview in March he would not stay around forever. "I have been in this job for so many years and after all I might hand it over to the next generation, so to say, when I see that we need new, fresh people..." he said.

The Kazakh leader remains genuinely popular in his steppe nation of 15 million after presiding over years of uninterrupted economic growth and rising living standards.

Speaking about parliament's renewed proposal to rename the capital city after him, Nazarbayev said it was inappropriate while he was still in power.

"I have always been against renaming (it), especially when it involved me," he said in the Caspian oil city of Atyrau. "I plan to work for as long as people trust me and as long as my capabilities and health allow."

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Haziran 2008, 15:21
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