Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev has endorsed a law canceling a state holiday instituted in honor of the Central Asian nation's first president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, the latest move to distance himself from his predecessor.
The bill to exclude from the nation's list of state holidays the Day of the First President -- observed on December 1 each year -- was signed into law by Toqaev on September 29, and the parliament's upper chamber, the Senate, approved the move.
The legislation was approved by the parliament's lower chamber, the Mazhilis, in early September.
The change is the latest in a series of moves Toqaev has taken to push Nazarbaev, who ruled the tightly controlled former Soviet republic with an iron fist for almost three decades, further into the background following his resignation in 2019.
Though he officially stepped down as president, Nazarbaev retained sweeping powers as the head of the country's powerful Security Council. He also enjoyed substantial powers by holding the title of "elbasy" or leader of the nation.
Even after Nazarbaev's resignation, many Kazakhs remained bitter over the oppression felt during his reign.
Those feelings came to a head in January when unprecedented antigovernment nationwide protests were sparked by a fuel price hike.
The demonstrations unexpectedly exploded into deadly countrywide unrest over perceived corruption under the Nazarbaev regime and the cronyism that allowed his family and close friends to enrich themselves while ordinary citizens failed to share in the oil-rich Central Asian nation's wealth.
Toqaev subsequently stripped Nazarbaev of his Security Council role, taking it over himself. Since then, several of Nazarbaev’s relatives and allies have been pushed out of their positions or resigned. Some have been arrested on corruption charges.
In June this year, a Toqaev-initiated referendum removed Nazarbaev's name from the Constitution and annulled his status as elbasy.
Kazakh critics say Toqaev's initiatives were mainly cosmetic and did not change the nature of the autocratic system in a country that has been plagued for years by rampant corruption and nepotism, RFE/RL reports.
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