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8 Jan, 2007 20:35

Prime Minister of Kazakhstan retires

Prime Minister of Kazakhstan retires

The Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Danial Akhmetov, has resigned from his post. The move has come in the wake of criticism of his performance by the authoritarian president of the oil-rich Central Asian country.

On Monday, the Prime Minister resigned, meaning the entire cabinet must be dismissed, and throwing further fuel on the flames of political instability.

Danial Akhmetov, who had been the Prime Minister since 2003, pushed through free-market reforms and attracted foreign investment to the country's vast energy sector. In a speech following his decision, Akhmetov expressed gratitude to the authoritarian President.

“I am grateful to the President for the confidence he was expressing to the government and me. I am quite sure it’s an honour for each citizen of Kazakhstan to work with the President,” he stated.

No reason was immediately given for the move, but Mr Akhmetov came under fire from President Nursultan Nazarbayev last year for poor strategic planning, overspending and other mistakes.

However, some experts think there do not seem to be any problems resulted from the resignation of Mr Akhmetov.

“I do not think the resignation of Mr Akhmetov was expected, but  no problem resulted from this resignation – neither for Russia, nor for other countries. Mr Akhmetov, now the former PM of the Republic of Kazakhstan, will still be a very influential figure in the Kazakh government. I suppose that he will get a new post in the future government of the country, or some other very important post in Kazakhstan’s structures of power,” said Mikhail Chernov, expert from RosBusinessConsulting (Media Group), International Department, sharing with Russia Today his opinion on the resignation of the Kazakh Prime Minister.

Danial Akhmetov was most popular for pushing free-market reforms and generous foreign investment in the vast energy sector – policies that are not completely in line with that of Mr Nazarbayev.

The President accepted the resignation, which automatically means the entire cabinet will be dismissed. Nazarbayev must now nominate a new candidate for the post and parliament must approve this choice.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Karim Masimov, is one possible candidate.

“We know about Karim Masimov that he worked in one of the largest state banks in the country, the People’s Savings Bank of Kazakhstan. He was also a sort of ”Kazakh German Gref“, i.e. Head of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Economic Development. As for his personality, Mr Masimov, just like Danial Akhmetov, is very devoted to President Nursultan Nazarbayev,” underscored Mr Chernov.

A joint session of the president and parliament is due to take place on Wednesday.

Spokesman for the Kazakh government, Sergey Kuyanov, also said Mr Akhmetov's resignation was unexpected.

“Akhmetov occupied the post for more than three-and-a-half years; it’s been the most successful government so far. In this respect his resignation comes as a surprise. The cabinet was dominated by technocrats. Now, according to Constitution, the president will nominate the new candidate who will be considered and possibly approved by parliament. At the moment, I can’t name anybody, but this will probably be a person from the same category of people,” the spokesman commented. 

All eyes will now be on the President as he makes his decision. The choice may be a show-case for the future, as the country faces strategic economic challenges.

“I think there is no danger for the political stability of Kazakhstan, nor for the Kazakh president. It does mark some changes in the country’s politics, in particular, its politics regarding trans-national oil companies. Thus, Kazakhstan is trying to strengthen the state’s involvement in the oil and gas industry, which is very important,” emphasised Mr Chernov.