Opposition protests expected across Kazakhstan

Anti-government protests are planned across Kazakhstan today. Following the resignation of long-time dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev in March, Kazakhstan held its

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Photo: Reuters

Anti-government protests are planned across Kazakhstan today.

Following the resignation of long-time dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev in March, Kazakhstan held its first election to choose a new leader. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a close ally of the former leader, took 71 percent of the vote. The country’s opposition claims the election was rigged and that Nazarbayev, through his continued rule over the Security Council and ruling Nur Otan party, will effectively be steering the country from behind the scenes.

Expect Tokayev to remain loyal to his predecessor’s policies. Domestically, this means continued media censorship and crackdowns on opposition activists and journalists. However, Tokayev’s being at the reins of Central Asia’s most prosperous country bodes will for foreign investors, particularly those in the energy and construction sectors.

Indeed, Tokayev will undoubtedly continue to increase Kazakhstan’s oil and gas yields, which have skyrocketed in recent years, allowing the economy to grow at a pace of 4.1 percent in 2018. Likewise, the privatisation of state-owned firms and infrastructure investment to support China’s Belt and Road Initiative, of which Kazakhstan is a key player, only stand to increase under Tokayev.

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