Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced his resignation in a special address to the nation on March 19.
“I have made the decision to end my tenure as president,” 78-year-old Nazarbayev said in the adress.
Live on air he signed a decree stating that his presidential tenure will end on March 20. He had been the leader of Kazakhstan since 1990. He was on his fifth term when the announcement was made.
After his resignation, Nazarbayev will become the head of the Security Council of Kazakhstan. According to the country’s consitution, he can occupy this post for the life term. He also remains the head of the country’s rulling party Nur Otan and will be a member of the Consitutional Council.
Senate Speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, also from Nur Otan, will perform presidential duties until a new president is elected.
Previously, Tokayev had held various government posts, including those of foreign minister and prime minister. He also served as director-general of the UN office in Geneva.
Kazakhstan is one of the key regional allies of Russia. Together with Russia and Belarus, it played an important role in the creation of the Eurasian Trade Union. The union was later joined by Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.