Kazakh President sacks son-in-law after riots

Last Updated: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 14:10

Astana: Kazakh President Nursultan
Nazarbayev on Friday sacked his powerful son-in-law Timur
Kulibayev from a top state post in the wake of deadly riots
over wage demands.

"I am dismissing Timur Kulibayev, who heads
Samruk-Kazyna," Nazarbayev said in televised comments from the
crisis-hit region of Mangistau.

The massive state holding company Samruk-Kazyna is
considered one of the most powerful structures in the
resource-rich nation and has been headed by Kulibayev -- seen
as the veteran president`s likely successor -- since April.

The unexpected move comes after two days of violent
clashes in the oil-producing heart of Kazakhstan that killed
16 people and badly scarred the central asian republic`s image
as a safe haven for foreign investment.

Officials had earlier announced the dismissal of the
chief executives of two subsidiaries of Samruk-Kazyna`s
Kazmunaigaz state energy giant that resisted workers` demands
for higher wages for seven months.

Kulibayev`s sacking threatens to further unsettle a
succession plan to the 70-year-old Nazarbayev that only began
to come into focus after he payed a snap visit to a European
clinic for undisclosed treatment this summer.

A top presidential advisor said in July that Kulibayev --
who is married to Nazarbayev`s middle daughter Dinara -- would
take over if the president suddenly left power.

"It is Kulibayev who would be able to continue the
president`s strategic course, in the case of an extraordinary
situation connected with the sudden departure of the head of
state," aide Yermukhamet Yertysbayev said.

Early speculation that Kulibayev was being groomed for
the top had gathered steam with his Samruk-Kazyna appointment.
The company holds some USD 80 billion in assets and generates
53 percent of Kazakhstan`s gross domestic product.

US cables published by Wikileaks described Kulibayev as
the "ultimate controller of 90 percent" of the economy in
Kazakhstan and a man so important for access to the
president`s inner circle he is known as "the hyphen".

Kulibayev himself had said little about becoming Kazakh
president and had dismissed the presidential adviser`s July
comments as premature.

Kulibayev dismissal followed a snap visit by Nazarbayev
to a region that is vital to Kazakhstan`s energy future and
was the scene of a months long strike by oil workers.

Nazarbayev had initially blamed the violence on
"hooligans" -- a comment that appeared to set him on a
collision course with US expressions of serious concern over
the unrest and use of force.

PTI



First Published: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 14:10

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