A shake-up of Kazakhstan’s political scene is under way with a revamped political party in Astana seemingly destined to play the role of tame opposition to the ruling party, Nur Otan. Analysts are cautioning that the apparent attempt by Astana officials to micromanage politics could backfire.
The chief potential consequence, according to some experts, is the move will make it harder for dissenting voices to be heard in the political discourse, thus causing disaffection to intensify among groups currently lacking political representation. A higher level of discontent, in turn, could foster political protests and instability.
The reshuffling of Kazakhstan’s political deck got underway on July 2, when Azat Peruashev replaced Alikhan Baymenov as the leader of the Ak Zhol party. Only the day before the move was announced Peruashev resigned his membership in Nur Otan, the party that serves as President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s support base. Baymenov, meanwhile, enjoyed a soft landing, securing appointment as chairman of the State Agency for Civil Service Affairs.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.