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Kazakhstan’s Planned Presidential Succession Goes Off Script

Interim Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev speaks to supporters in Nur-Sultan on June 7.

On June 9, Kazakhstan will conduct its first presidential election in which Nursultan Nazarbaev will not be a candidate.

When the only president Kazakhstan has ever known announced his retirement on March 19, the plan for moving longtime government official and Nazarbaev ally Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev into the presidency was implemented.

It was supposed to be a smooth transition of power from Nazarbaev to his chosen successor. But some people in Kazakhstan objected to this handover of presidency, since it seemed to have all been decided without the people of the country having any say.

There have been a series of peaceful protests and actions against this managed succession of power, which has clearly taken authorities by surprise and cast an unwelcome spotlight on Kazakhstan ahead of its first change of presidents.

On this week's Majlis podcast, RFE/RL's media-relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderates a discussion on the unexpected twists and turns of Kazakhstan’s presidential campaign and the possibility that there is more to come after the election.

Participating from Almaty was Assem Zhapisheva, a journalist and a youth activist with the newly formed group Oyan Kazakhstan (Wake Up Kazakhstan).

Also from Almaty, Joanna Lillis, the veteran Central Asia reporter for Eurasianet and author of the recently released (and already in its second printing) book Dark Shadows Inside The Secret World Of Kazakhstan, joined the discussion.

I was raring to go on this topic, so I had something to say also.

Majlis Podcast: Kazakhstan’s Planned Presidential Succession Goes Off Script
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About Majlis

Each week, hosts Bruce Pannier and Muhammad Tahir welcome a panel of expert guests to discuss significant political developments and pressing social issues affecting the nations of Central Asia.

Click here to check out the latest Majlis podcast, or visit ITunes.