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Kazakh president Tokayev takes over as ruling party leader

Move finalizes transfer of political power from predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has been elected chairman of Kazakhstan's ruling Nur Otan party.   © Reuters

ALMATY (Reuters) -- Kazakhstan's ruling Nur Otan party elected President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as its chairman on Friday, his office said in a tweet, finalising the transfer of political power from his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Nazarbayev, who resigned in 2019, had retained sweeping powers until this month as the chairman of the security council and the head of Nur Otan, which dominates parliament. Tokayev took over the security council position at the peak of violent unrest in early January.

Amid widespread talk of a rift between the two politicians -- a number of Nazarbayev's relatives resigned or were sacked from senior positions after the unrest -- Tokayev struck a conciliatory tone in his Friday speech to the party congress.

"Let us give due credit to the historic achievements of the first president, focus on his undeniable successes and virtues, and regard the possible mistakes as lessons for the future rulers of our country," he said.

Nazarbayev, who had run the oil-rich nation for three decades, briefly spoke to the congress which was held through a video conference, reiterating his proposal to elect Tokayev as chairman.

At the same congress, the party removed Nazarbayev's eldest daughter, Dariga, who is a member of parliament, from its political council, along with a number of other members.

Tokayev said he planned to reform the party but could step down as its chairman as soon as at the end of this year, after rolling out a political reform package that would require the president to maintain an "equidistant status" from all parties.

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