Nursultan Nazarbayev, the first and only president Kazakhstan has ever known, announced in a national address on Tuesday that he is resigning from office.
“I have decided to terminate my powers as president. This year will mark 30 years I have spent at our nation’s highest post. The people gave me the opportunity to be the first president of an independent Kazakhstan,” he said, according to the news agency Interfax.
The country’s acting president will be Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the speaker of the Senate, Nazarbayev added. The long-serving leader isn’t leaving politics entirely, however. After stepping down from the presidency, Nazarbayev will head Kazakhstan’s Security Council, in accordance with a law adopted by parliament in May 2018.
Nazarbayev has ruled Kazakhstan since 1990, before Kazakhstan even declared its independence from the USSR. He was re-elected to his most recent five-year term in snap elections held in April 2015, winning a thoroughly unsuspicious 97.75 percent of the vote. This July, Nazarbayev will be 79 years old.