Monday, January 8, 2007

From the country of Borat...

The Prime Minister of Kazakhstan resigned today because the president had grown tired of him. In many authoritarian countries the prime minister is merely a lackey of the dictator, a sort of bureaucrat-in-chief with few political responsibilities other than enforcing the president's will. And Kazakhstan is no different. As the Associated Press tells us, the Kazakhstani president "regularly replaces his prime ministers as he tries to secure his position and balance interests of various powerful elite groups." In the 15 years since Kazakhstan separated from the Soviet Union they've gone through six prime ministers in all.

Only one president though. Since 1989 Kazakhstan has been ruled by Nursultan Nazarbayev (pictured here looking particularly radiant). It's the usual story, he used to run the local wing of the Communist Party when Kazakhstan was still a Soviet province, then when they broke away he seamlessly transitioned into the president of an independent country. Much like the late Mr. Turkmenbashi next door.

In recent years many of "the 'stans" have witnessed peaceful democratic revolutions which have deposed several of these former Communist czars-cum-presidents. There was the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, and most famously of all, the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine. This democratic tide has proven to be something of a double-edged sword, however. As unrest sweeps the former Bloc, the remaining dictators are resorting to increasingly harsh clampdowns to ensure that the spread doesn't cross their borders. The rulers of Kazakhstan, along with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, can now legitimately justify the widespread jailing of dissidents and censorship of media in a way they never could before.

President Nazarbayev is expected to appoint a new prime minister shortly.

1 comment:

Chris V said...

I wonder what the role of Dariga Nazarbayev will be. It was said she was being prepped to take over the presidency, but it would be interesting if her father made her PM instead.

Also, did you hear Kazakhstan is planning on building a giant tent over its capital city?