Magazine article Global Finance

Kulibayev Front-Runner in Kazakhstan Succession

Magazine article Global Finance

Kulibayev Front-Runner in Kazakhstan Succession

Article excerpt

Kazakhstan

With Nazarbayev's blessing

Talk of who might replace Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev- who has ruled the oil-rich Central Asian country since 1989- has long been taboo in the country's political circles. Succession uncertainty has been the bane of foreign investors, particularly in the oil sector, who worry that a new face could lead to unfavorable policies.

When the German media reported in mid-July that the 71 -year-old Nazarbayev was in a Hamburg hospital for an unspecified ailment, the elephant in the room- presidential succession- became too big to ignore. Days later, a trusted presidential adviser commented in an interview with Russian newspaper Kommersant that if Nazarbayev were to leave office, his son-in-law Timur Kulibayev would be the man to carry the torch.

In the cloudy world of Kazakhstan! politics, the statement was almost tantamount to an official endorsement. And in the absence of any dissent- Nazarbayev won 95.6% of the vote in recent presidential elections, and there are no opposition members in parliament- getting the nod from the boss is the only prerequisite.

The news wasn't a big surprise, as the 44-year-old Kulibayev had long been rumored to be at the front of the line. …

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