Nazarbayev says his resignation 'not unique'
NUR-SULTAN. Nov 12 (Interfax) - First Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev has said that he stepped down at the peak of his popularity in the country, but his resignation was not unique.
"The transit of power question is the most frequent one I am asked today. My mandate was due to expire at the end of 2020, but I made that decision," Nazarbayev said at the 5th meeting of the Astana Club political forum in the Kazakh capital.
"Why did it happen? What was the reason? Firstly, I stepped down from the post of president at the peak of popularity in my country. I won 96% of vote at the 2015 election, and I know that our population was saddened to learn about my resignation. But this case isn't that unique. [Charles] de Gaulle, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, and Mr. Mahathir stepped down," he said.
Nazarbayev said that he had ruled Kazakhstan since the Soviet times, and "the country's economy has grown 20-fold" since Kazakhstan gained independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
On March 19, Leader of the Nation Nazarbayev announced his resignation from the post of president of Kazakhstan. In line with the constitution, the powers of the president were transferred to then-Senate speaker Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who was supposed to be acting head of state until the expiry of the term of the elected president in April 2020. However, in early April Tokayev announced a snap presidential election for June 9, which he won.