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Election Of New Kazakh Parliament Speaker Sparks Talk Of Power Struggle

Maulen Ashimbaev is the new parliament speaker.
Maulen Ashimbaev is the new parliament speaker.

The former deputy chief of the Kazakh presidential administration, Maulen Ashimbaev, has replaced as parliament speaker Dariga Nazarbaeva, the daughter of former President Nursultan Nazarbaev, in a sign of a possible power struggle at the top of the country's leadership.

Presidential spokesman Berik Uali wrote on Facebook on May 4 that members of parliament's upper chamber, the Senate, had approved President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev's proposal to elect Ashimbaev to the post of the Senate chairman, a position that is next in line to take power in the country if the president resigns or is incapable of performing their duties.

The vote was held just hours after Toqaev appointed Ashimbaev as a Senate member, two days after he unexpectedly dismissed Nazarbaeva from the post of Senate speaker.

The decision to remove the 56-year-old Nazarbaeva from the post and her seat in parliament by Toqaev, her father's handpicked successor, may be an indication of a political upheaval among power brokers in the Central Asian country.

Nazarbaeva had served as Senate chairwoman since March 20, 2019, a day after her father stepped down as president after ruling the former Soviet republic for almost 30 years.

At the time, her appointment raised concerns that her father had picked Toqaev as purely an interim leader and that Nazarbaeva would ascend to power.

Nazarbaev, 79, is widely seen as the country's top decision-maker despite leaving the presidency. He continues to lead the ruling Nur-Otan Party and holds the lifetime post as chairman of the powerful Security Council.

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