Kazakhstan’s Tokayev gets veteran leader’s backing for presidency

FILE PHOTO: Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev speaks during his meeting with South Korea's counterpart Moon Jae-in in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan April 22, 2019. REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov

NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) – Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Tuesday secured veteran leader Nursultan Nazarbayev’s backing to run in the June 9 snap presidential election, virtually guaranteeing Tokayev’s victory.

Nazarbayev, who leads the oil-rich Central Asian nation’s biggest political party, Nur Otan, asked party members at a pre-election congress on Tuesday to officially nominate Tokayev, a 65-year-old former diplomat.

Tokayev, previously speaker of the Senate, assumed the presidency last month in line with the constitution when Nazarbayev resigned after running the former Soviet republic of 18 million for almost three decades.

Tokayev then quickly called an early election to finalize what observers regard as an orchestrated transfer of power in a highly centralized political system.

Nazarbayev, 78, retains sweeping authority as head of Kazakhstan’s security council and Nur Otan leader.

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