Kassenova: The succession process has shown that Kazakh society is changing and those running the country are out of touch with their own people

PONARS Eurasia
11 Jun 2019

(FP) NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan—For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has a new president. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the interim president and hand-picked successor of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Central Asian country’s longtime autocrat, confirmed his position on Sunday in an election where he faced off against six government-approved candidates.

But the choreographed transfer of power was overshadowed by sustained protests across Kazakhstan in the past months, which culminated in countrywide demonstrations on election day. [...]

“The government is still entrenched and firmly in power,” said Nargis Kassenova, a Central Asia expert and senior fellow at Harvard University. “At the same time, this campaign has shown that society is changing, and it has exposed just how out of touch those running the country are with their own people.” [...]

“At the moment, we don’t know what exactly is being planned,” Kassenova, the Harvard expert, said. “But whatever plan they have, it will be challenged.”

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