Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called an early presidential election for November 20 on Wednesday, according to a decree published by his office, pressing ahead with a plan he announced earlier this month.
The vote, which he 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.
Analysts 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.
It also gives Tokayev a head start after he implemented a series of reforms, announced a minimum wage increase and other handouts, and parted ways with his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Nazarbayev, who had run Kazakhstan for three decades, formally handed over the reins to Tokayev in 2019, 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 and have returned hundreds of millions of dollars to the state which the authorities now say they had gained illegally.