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Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan of 30 years and the last Soviet-era leader in power in a former Soviet republic, unexpectedly resigned on Tuesday, but is widely expected to retain power over the country’s politics and policies.
Nazarbayev, viewed as an autocrat as many of the other rulers of Central Asian nations, noted in his resignation speech that during his three-decade tenure since 1989 Kazakhstan managed to attract foreign investment in its commodities industries and set up a sovereign wealth fund thanks to oil and gas revenues.
Kazakhstan has tripled its oil production over the past 30 years and is currently taking part in the OPEC/non-OPEC deal to reduce output. Kazakhstan’s production cap under the agreement is 1.86 million bpd, down by 40,000 bpd from its November production level.
“I have made a difficult decision for myself - to resign from the powers of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” Nazarbayev said in an address on Tuesday, but noted that he would remain the Chairman of the Security Council, “which is vested with serious powers.”
“That is to say, I am staying with you,” said Nazarbayev in what analysts see as a prepared political transition that would still give the now former president considerable power over Kazakhstan.
Nazarbayev, who was the only president of independent Kazakhstan until yesterday, handed over the presidential power to the Chairman of the Senate, Kassym-Jomart Kemelovich Tokayev, until the end of the presidential term in office, April 2020. Kazakhstan is slated to hold presidential and general elections next year.
In order to comply with the OPEC+ deal, Kazakhstan will shut down most of the production at its giant Kashagan field—one of the world’s largest offshore oil fields—by nearly 200,000 bpd in April and May, before ramping up again in June, Energy Minister Kanat Bozumbayev said just a few days ago.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.