Kazakhstan has sworn in Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as interim president a day after longtime leader Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned.

Tokayev, a career diplomat who had been senate speaker, can serve the remainder of Nazarbayev’s term ahead of scheduled elections next year.

Nazarbayev surprised many by announcing in a televised address Tuesday that he would step down after nearly 30 years, making Tokayev only the second president in the country’s independent history.

Nazarbayev attended Tokayev’s inauguration Wednesday, entering to lengthy applause from assembled dignitaries before taking a seat on a podium above and behind the lectern where Tokayev gave an address.

Nazarbayev, whom Tokayev praised as “an outstanding reformer,” will remain influential as chairman of the security council and head of the ruling party.


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