Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has said that it may be "time to change the scenery," leaving it unclear whether he will seek a new term in an early election on April 26.
Nazarbaev made the comment on March 6 at a meeting with prominent Kazakh women in Astana, adding that he had not yet decided whether to run.
Nazarbaev's ruling Nur Otan party is expected to propose his candidacy for the election, which was moved forward from 2016 following a proposal by a public assembly chaired by Nazarbaev -- the longtime president who has tight control over the political system -- that was approved by parliament.
Nazarbaev, 74, told the women: "I have been leading Kazakhstan...from the very beginning of its independence. Maybe it is time to change the scenery, as they say in the theater."
But Nazarbaev said the majority of Kazakh citizens wanted him to stay in office "to preserve internal stability in the country."
He has led Kazakhstan since 1989, two years before the Soviet collapse.