Kazakhstan’s new President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, was sworn in on Wednesday, marking it the first time the Central Asian republic is having a new leader in almost 30 years.
Presidential predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev, 78, announced his unexpected resignation in a televised address on Tuesday.
Tokayev, a former parliamentary speaker who served for decades in the upper echelons of the government, quickly proposed that the nation’s capital, Astana, should be named after Nazarbayev.
“I consider it necessary to immortalise the name of the first president of the republic of Kazakhstan,’’ Tokayev said in a speech, excerpts of which were carried by state news agency, Kazinform.
Astana should be renamed “Nursultan’’ and the central streets in every Kazakh city should also bear his name”, Tokayev told a joint meeting of both houses of Kazakhstan’s parliament.
Tokayev, previously chairman of Kazakhstan’s Senate, has also served as prime minister and foreign minister, and is fluent in Chinese and English Languages.
In endorsing Tokayev for president, Nazarbayev said in his resignation speech on Tuesday that Tokayev had been working alongside him since Kazakhstan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
“He is an honest, responsible and indispensable person..
“He fully supports implemented policy inside and outside the country. All programmes were developed and adopted with his participation.’’ Nazarbayev said.
Nazarbayev, a former Communist Party official, rose to power at the height of political reforms under Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
He then ruled the resource-rich republic with an iron fist.