Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has called an early presidential election for November 20, according to a decree published by his office.
News of the vote which was announced on Wednesday, which Tokayev is likely to win, will cut his current term but will give him a longer second term after a recent constitutional reform in the oil-rich Central Asian nation changed it to seven years from five.
Experts say holding an early election minimises risks from a potential deterioration of the economy and loss of public support amid geopolitical turbulence in the broader post-Soviet region.
The announcement gives Tokayev a head start after he implemented a series of reforms, including a minimum wage increase and other handouts.
Earlier this month, Tokayev announced a 17 percent minimum wage increase and said he planned to allocate half of the National Fund investment income to personal accounts of those below 18 years of age which they will be able to use to pay for tuition or to buy homes.
Tokayev parted ways with his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled the country for 29 years after it gained independence.
In 2019, Nazarbayev stepped down and handpicked Tokayev as his successor, but remained a powerful figure until last January when Tokayev took over as head of the country’s security council amid violent unrest.
A number of Nazarbayev’s relatives have since lost prominent public sector jobs and several businessmen close to him have been arrested.
They have returned hundreds of millions of dollars to the state which the authorities now say they had gained illegally.
January’s unrest roiled energy-rich Kazakhstan, one of the most stable of the Central Asian countries that gained independence with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Kazakh authorities detained about 12,000 people for their alleged participation in anti-government protests.