Kazakhstan president’s daughter poised for top job

Kazakhstan president’s daughter poised for top job

The oldest daughter of Kazakhstan’s autocratic president was picked as parliamentary Speaker this week, fuelling speculation that she could succeed her father after the April 2020 presidential election.

Outgoing Senate Speaker Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev was sworn in as interim president of the oil- and gas-rich Central Asian state.

The president’s daughter (pictured), Dariga Nazarbayeva’s appointment means she would become acting president if the new head of state were to die or become incapacitated.

Her promotion came a day after her father, Nursultan, who has led Kazakhstan since 1989, announced that he was stepping down as president this month.

The 78-year-old will, however, retain significant power as head of the Kazakh security council and the ruling Nur Otan party that he founded.

He was given the status of “Elbasy” or leader of the nation.

Toqaev, the interim president, said Nazarbayev’s “respected opinions” would be key in making “strategic decisions” and proposed that the capital, Astana, be renamed Nursultan, which was unanimously approved by parliament.

The acting president said: “Nursultan Nazarbayev, remains the only father of the nation for life.”
Toqaev also proposed erecting a monument to Nazarbayev in the capital and naming central streets in every Kazakh town after him.

Dariga, 55, has endured a messy divorce that was covered in the international media and followed by the apparent suicide of her ex-husband in an Austrian prison.

An amateur opera singer who sometimes performs on public occasions, Nazarbayeva has also served as deputy prime minister in the country of 18.7 million.

She then chaired the International Affairs, Defence and Security Committee in the Senate since September 2016.

Scandal

Her husband, Rakhat Aliyev, amassed a fortune through a media and banking empire. The unpopular Aliyev was also a domestic intelligence agency chief and ran the tax police.
In 2004 his reported mistress, a Russian television personality, was found dead in a Beirut street, having fallen from an apartment block.

In 2007 Aliyev, then ambassador to Austria, criticised his president for altering the Kazakh constitution to allow him to remain president for life.

He was rapidly expelled from his government posts, “forcibly divorced” and denied access to his three children. Some European nations began investigating Aliyev for money laundering.

The Kazakh authorities convicted him in absentia but Austria refused to extradite Aliyev, who married an Austrian woman.

The former surgeon wrote a book, Godfather-in-Law, accusing Nazarbayev of operating like a mafia boss.
Austria eventually charged Aliyev for the kidnapping and murder of two Kazakh bank employees.

The 52-year-old was found dead before his trial in February 2015, hanging from a coat hook in the bathroom of his prison cell in Vienna.

 

Dariga Nazarbayeva. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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