Kazakh president fires predecessor’s daughter amid succession talk
NurSultan: Kazakhstan's president on Saturday dismissed the eldest daughter of his veteran predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev as senate speaker, triggering fresh speculation over a power struggle in the energy-rich Central Asian state.
The 56-year-old Dariga Nazarbayeva's post had positioned her as second in line to the head of state.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who is Nazarbayev's hand-picked successor, had "terminated the powers" of Nazarbayeva, his office said in a statement.
In a Twitter post, Tokayev thanked her for "active and fruitful work" as Senate speaker.
A senate spokeswoman did not provide an immediate comment when contacted by AFP.
Nazarbayev, 79, is still widely viewed as Kazakhstan's top decision-maker despite stepping down from the presidency last year after nearly 30 years in power.
His daughter's dismissal came as authoritarian Kazakhstan's oil-producing economy reels from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tokayev previously occupied the senate chair position held by Nazarbayeva up until her dismissal.
Many analysts had viewed 66-year-old Tokayev, a former foreign minister, as a loyal seat-warmer who might make way for a member of the Nazarbayev family at a later date.
Persistent speculation that Nazarbayeva was poised to succeed him received a boost in March when a prominent journalist reported on social media that he had resigned, citing highly-placed anonymous sources.
A top advisor to Tokayev dismissed the post as "fake news" at the time.
The journalist, Gulnara Bazhkenova, subsequently apologised for the post on Facebook, but was not punished.
- 'Bold move'? -
Political commentator Dosym Satpayev said the sudden nature of Nazarbayeva's dismissal defied immediate explanation.
"Here there are three scenarios. Either something has happened to the First President (Nursultan Nazarbayev), or the decision was made with his participation," Satpayev told AFP.
"The third scenario is that Tokayev has decided to use the crisis to make a bold move." Nazarbayeva is believed to be among Kazakhstan's richest people and wields significant control over media in the landlocked country that enjoys close ties with Russia and China. - AFP