Police detained hundreds of people in Kazakhstan amid protests against a presidential election set to confirm Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as the country’s new leader. The snap election was called after the unexpected resignation of 78 year-old president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had led the country since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Mr Nazarbayev, who holds the official title of Yelbasy, or national leader, hand-picked Mr Tokayev, the 66-year-old speaker of the upper house, to succeed him as president.
Kazakhstan’s president has announced his retirement after nearly 30 years as leader of the central Asian nation – but he will likely remain a power behind the throne, analysts said, as he retains key posts in Kazakhstan’s military and political bureaucracy. Nursultan Nazarbayev has led the oil-rich country since the fall of the Soviet Union, first as its Communist leader and then as president after independence.