Annette Bohr

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Serdar Berdimuhamedow. Photo is a Tatarstan government handout.

As Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine at the end of February, authorities in Turkmenistan – an autocratic post-Soviet state with the world’s fourth largest gas reserves – avoided any talk of the war and instead urged citizens to vote early in the snap presidential election on 12 March.

As predicted, Serdar Berdimuhamedow – son of long-time president Gurbanguly – garnered the majority of the vote and was sworn into office, ushering in the Central Asian region’s first dynastic succession and only the second such transfer of power in the entire post-Soviet space.

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow is set to retain his role as chair of the parliament’s upper chamber, the Halk Maslahaty (People’s Council) – a position that will allow him to oversee and directly influence state policy in addition to wielding power behind the scenes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Voting during Kazakhstan's 2021 parliamentary election in Nur-Sultan. Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images.

The highly-controlled elections to Kazakhstan’s lower house of parliament (Majlis) have produced a distribution of seats almost identical to the previous parliament, with ruling party Nur Otan — still under the chairmanship of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev — remaining firmly in charge.

The elections were the first since 80-year-old Nazarbayev yielded his position after nearly 30 years in power to his own hand-picked successor Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev. The leadership’s need for control and wariness of electoral protests is unsurprising in light of the unusual spate of anti-government rallies that took place when Nazarbayev passed the presidential reins in 2019, and the recent post-election demonstrations in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, and Russia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kazakh Majilis Chairman Nurlan Nigmatulin and ex-president Nursultan Nazarbayev at an inauguration ceremony in parliament. Photo: Pavel Aleksandrov\TASS via Getty Images.

Leaders of the resource-rich Central Asian region have the propensity to remain in power until mortality dictates otherwise. Much like the UK and Brexit, however, few wanted to see Central Asia’s longest reigning ruler, Kazakhstan’s septuagenarian president Nursultan Nazarbayev, crash out without a deal.

The sudden departure of the country’s official leader of the nation with no clear succession plan could have led to investment chaos, intra-elite fighting and the unravelling in a matter of months of a system he had built over decades, à la Uzbekistan following the death of long-serving autocrat Islam Karimov in 2016.

In order to avoid just such a ‘no-deal’ scenario and ensure the continuity of his policies, in March Nazarbayev carefully choreographed his own resignation and the election of a hand-picked successor, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, while retaining plum positions and powers for himself.…  Seguir leyendo »