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Majlis Podcast: 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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Listen to the podcast above or subscribe to the Majlis on iTunes.

About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change.

Content draws on the extensive knowledge and contacts of RFE/RL's Central Asian services but also allow scholars in the West, particularly younger scholars who will be tomorrow’s experts on the region, opportunities to share their views on the evolving situation at this Eurasian crossroad.

The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.


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