Kazakh Ex-Prime Minister Appointed Interim President's Top Aide

Interim Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev has appointed a recently dismissed prime minister to head his administration.

Nursultan Nazarbaev announced he was stepping down as president last week after ruling the energy-rich Central Asian country for nearly 30 years.

Toqaev, who will serve as interim president until a presidential election in April 2020, appointed Bakytzhan Sagintaev as his chief of staff on March 24. He replaces Asset Issekeshev.

Nazarbaev dismissed Sagintaev from the post of prime minister last month, citing his government’s failure to raise living standards and diversify the economy away from the energy sector.

The 78-year-old Nazarbaev announced on March 19 he was stepping down as president.

He still, however, remains chairman for life of the Kazakh Security Council and chairman of the ruling Nur-Otan party.

On March 23, Toqaev signed a decree to rename the capital, Astana, Nur-Sultan in honor of Nazarbaev, after parliament approved the change.