NAZARBAEV: FOURTEEN MORE YEARS.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 10

President Nursultan Nazarbaev, 58, who has just been reelected to a seven-year term of office (see the Monitor, January 8, 12), already seems to be planning to prolong his presidency by a further term from 2006 onward. Nazarbaev’s lieutenant Sergey Tereshchenko, who headed the president’s reelection campaign staff in the race just concluded, revealed that intention. Tereshchenko announced that the campaign staff is now being expanded into a pro-presidential political party, to be named Otan [Fatherland]. Using the presidential campaign staff’s experience, Otan plans to field candidates in the local and parliamentary elections this year, and to support Nazarbaev for reelection in 2006.

Echoing Nazarbaev’s oft-made point, Tereshchenko argued that “changing Kazakhstan into a civilized and democratic state would require fifteen to twenty years,” and that the country needs Nazarbaev in office for that transitional period. Otan plans to lead a front-type coalition of public organizations and parties promoting “social-democratic principles” and inter-ethnic consensus in the multinational Kazakhstan. Tereshchenko personally disclaims any plan to join the government, preferring instead to run his private farming and food-processing business (Kazakh television, January 13).

Tereshchenko, a former deputy prime minister, is one of the key figures in mustering the support of Kazakhstan’s Russians for Nazarbaev. That effort is crucial not just to securing electoral majorities, but also to maintaining interethnic tranquillity in the long intervals between elections, and defusing any potential for irredentism in the Russian-settled northern regions. Nazarbaev’s rivals, the communist Serikbolsyn Abdyldin and the left-leaning Akezhan Kazhegeldin, had banked disproportionately–and in vain–on the support of local Russian groups.

Setting the foreign-policy tone after the presidential election, Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev ruled out the possibility of Kazakhstan joining supranational bodies of the CIS, or a CIS military alliance, or arrangements for a common currency or common budget in the CIS framework. Nazarbaev, for his part, had expressed himself disdainfully about the Russia-Belarus Union in his first post-election statement (see the Monitor, January 12).

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