Kazakhstan after Nazarbayev: 4. The Long Shots

5 Aug

With rumours whirling around in the last few weeks about the health of Kazakhstan’s long-time president, the focus has once again turned to succession scenarios in Astana.

Kazaxia has decided to gaze into its crystal ball and look at some of the possible frontrunners should the Leader of the Nation decide to call it a day – here’s the fourth and final instalment:

In this part Kazaxia will look at some of the contenders on the fringes of the succession battle.

Dariga Nazarbayeva, the president’s eldest daughter, was at one time considered by many observers to be a shoo-in for the top job. But following the scandal which erupted around her former husband Rakhat Aliyev in 2007, her chances have faded and the president is believed to wonder where her true loyalties lie. It’s unlikely that any sort of door would be left open for Aliyev to return so it looks like she will have to make do with her opera singing.

Karim Masimov, the current Prime Minister, is a capable politician who is well-respected for his role in steering Kazakhstan through the global financial crisis. He’s tech-savvy, as can be seen by his slick website and blog and his presence on twitter. He’s a polyglot – fluent in Kazakh, Mandarin and English.

However, there’s one big question mark over whether he could become president – there’s a widespread, albeit unconfirmed, perception that he is Uyghur, although his father is reported to be Kazakh. Unfortunately, success in politics in Kazakhstan is not always based on merit – ethnic and clan affiliations also play a significant role – and in Kazakhstan only an ethnic Kazakh can realistically hope to become president.

Our last contender for consideration is Kairat Satybaldy, Nazarbayev’s nephew. He was brought up by the president’s family after his father died. Nazarbayev is thought to be close to Satybaldy, who’s in charge of youth policy in Nur Otan, the political party that has all the seats in Kazakhstan’s lower house of parliament. He has also held a top position in the KNB, Kazakhstan’s security service.

He could be the surprise candidate that Nazarbayev has up his sleeve to confound all the Astana watchers. Kazaxia wouldn’t put it past the wily old master politician to pull such a stunt.

So there you have it, Kazaxia’s lowdown on who might succeed President Nazarbayev. As long as the President remains healthy there’s no reason why he should give up his job, so we may have a long wait to see who will follow him. If you have any suggestions as to who the successor might be, please let us know.


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