ALMATY, SEPT. 11 (The Conway Bulletin) – Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev appointed his daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva, to be a deputy PM, triggering an avalanche of speculation that she was being lined up to succeed him.
The appointment caps a remarkable turnaround for Ms Nazarbayeva who in 2007 fell out with her father and was forced to relinquish her seat in parliament and her media business interests.
Analysts said that her appointment as deputy PM was significant.
“It does look like a sign of succession,” Nargis Kassenova, professor of International Relations at KIMEP University in Almaty.
“Now with no danger of Rakhat Aliyev coming back, there seems to be no serious constraint to keep her away from top executive positions.”
Ms Nazarbayeva had been married to Rakhat Aliyev who fled into exile in 2007 and set himself up in opposition to President Nazarbayev. He was later arrested and charged in Vienna with murdering two Kazakh bankers outside Almaty.
Mr Nazarbayev had wanted him extradited but this year, the day before he was to stand trial, Aliyev was found hanged in his prison cell.
The succession issue for President Nazarbayev has become one of his most pressing. The 75-year-old, who has ruled over Kazakhstan since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, has not yet named a successor, which has allowed rumours to swirl and instability to take root.
Ms Kassenova, the KIMEP professor, said that Ms Nazarbayeva’s promotion may already have been trailed when President Nazarbayev earlier this month spoke about the Asian model of democracy.
“This dynastic approach to power is probably what President Nazarbayev had in mind when he recently referred to our Asian traditions to explain a slow move to Western-style democracy,” she said.
Ms Nazarbayeva returned to parliament in the 2012 election and has since held the position of deputy speaker of parliament.
There are other potential rivals for power. These include PM Karim Massimov, defence minister Imangali Tasmagambetov and Timur Kulibayev, the former head of Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund and the husband of Mr Nazarbayev’s second daughter.
>>This story was first published in issue 247 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper. For more details on The Conway Bulletin, go to www.conway.starbit.co.uk