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Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said it was time to 'pay tribute' to the people of Kazakhstan. — Reuters file pic
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said it was time to ‘pay tribute’ to the people of Kazakhstan. — Reuters file pic

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NUR-SULTAN, Jan 11 — Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev today accused his predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev, of creating a caste of wealthy elite, after unrest erupted last week amid anger over poverty.

In rare criticism of his 81-year-old mentor, who for decades was the most powerful person in Kazakhstan, Tokayev said Nazarbayev’s rule had created “a layer of wealthy people, even by international standards”.

“I believe that the time has come to pay tribute to the people of Kazakhstan and help them on a systematic and regular basis,” Tokayev said, noting that “very profitable companies” would be asked to pay money into a state fund. 

In a video address to officials and lawmakers, Tokayev added that he expected “active participation from people who possess huge wealth but keep in the shadows”.

The comments mark the first time career diplomat Tokayev has publicly criticised the man who chose him as his handpicked successor in 2019, despite earlier rumours of tensions between the pair.  

In another significant move, Tokayev announced plans to bring an end to a widely criticised private recycling monopoly linked to the former president’s youngest daughter, 41-year-old Aliya Nazarbayeva.  

“This should be done by a state organisation, as is the case in foreign countries,” he said. 

Tokayev referred to Nazarbayev today as Elbasy, or “Leader of the Nation”, a constitutional status that affords the former leader unique policy-making powers and immunity from prosecution. — AFP               


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