Kazakhstan’s President Reshuffles Government, Taps Chief of Staff as New Prime Minister

Last Updated on March 6, 2024 11:57 am


In a strategic move, Kazakhstan’s President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has overhauled the country’s government by appointing his chief of staff as the new prime minister. This decision comes on the heels of a presidential decree on Monday announcing the resignation of the entire Cabinet without providing explicit reasons.

The reshuffling saw the exit of Alikhan Smailov as prime minister, with Tokayev expressing dissatisfaction with the government’s performance, particularly its handling of inflation and infrastructure challenges. President Tokayev, who had previously criticized the ministers, seems determined to address pressing issues facing the Central Asian nation.

Stepping into the role of prime minister is Olzhas Bektenov, 43, a former head of Kazakhstan’s anti-corruption agency. Bektenov’s nomination by the ruling Amanat party received swift approval from the national parliament, signaling political alignment and support for the president’s vision.

Alikhan Smailov, who assumed the prime ministerial role after violent protests in January 2022, faced a challenging tenure marked by widespread unrest, resulting in 225 casualties. As President Tokayev takes a more active role in shaping the nation’s policies, the Cabinet is expected to play a largely technical role, with key ministers retaining their positions for the time being.

The upcoming meeting on Wednesday between President Tokayev and top officials is anticipated to set the agenda and priorities for the new Cabinet. With Tokayev, 70, consolidating political influence, Kazakhstan braces for a renewed focus on addressing economic and infrastructure challenges under the leadership of Prime Minister Bektenov. The reshuffle underscores the president’s commitment to steering the nation’s trajectory and ensuring effective governance in a pivotal period for Kazakhstan’s development.

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