Moscow, March 19 (IANS) Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Tuesday resigned from his position after nearly 30 years in power.
Nazarbayev, 78, who has led Kazakhstan since its independence from the Soviet Union, announced his resignation in a pre-recorded television address.
“I have decided to end my duties as President,” Nazarbayev said in the surprise address and added that the decision had “not been simple”.
Nazarbayev said the Speaker of the upper house of Parliament, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, would take over as acting president for the remainder of his term.
The announcement came weeks after Nazarbayev sacked the Kazakhstan government, citing failures to improve the economy.
There has been speculation that Nazarbayev, who has ruled the oil-rich country since the Soviet collapse in 1991, might step down as President but continue to hold power in another capacity.
Nazarbayev’s authoritarian regime focused on economic reform, while persistently suppressing dissent and resisting moves to democratise the country’s political system.