Fresh off his re-election victory, Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, reshuffled the government. The change that generated the most buzz in Astana, however, did not involve the cabinet.
Many familiar faces remain in the new cabinet, including Prime Minister Karim Masimov, who was appointed in January 2007 and is already Kazakhstan’s longest serving prime minister. Among the new additions is Kairat Kelimbetov, the former chairman of the Samruk-Kazyna sovereign wealth fund who was appointed April 11 as minister of economic development and trade.
Kelimbetov’s appointment opened the way for the promotion of Nazarbayev's billionaire son-in-law, Timur Kulibayev, to head the Samruk-Kazyna fund. Previously, Kulibayev had been Kelimbetov’s deputy. Political experts have tipped both men as potential successors to Nazarbayev, and their promotions suggest their career paths remain on an upward trajectory. The incumbent president has sent plenty of signals that he has no intention of leaving the political stage any time soon.
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Dean C.K. Cox is the photo editor for EurasiaNet. Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.