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The August terrorist attacks has thrown otherwise stable Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev’s decision to reshuffle his cabinet for the second time in a couple of weeks is a sign that stability in Kazakhstan is no longer being taken for granted.
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The recent death of Islam Karimov, who ruled Uzbekistan for 27 years, has raised the issue of his succession earlier than expected. No known successor has been identified, which could pose a threat to the country’s stability by way of popular dissatisfaction and an intra-elite power struggle. The initial outlook is not optimistic: in periods of transition within autocratic regimes, such as Uzbekistan, mechanisms of elite instinct take control in order to avoid complete regime breakdown.
Despite popular expectations to fight corruption, and promises made by the authorities, no significant anti-corruption breakthrough has been made to date. A report published by National Reforms Council, an organisation set up to observe reforms, noted that the launch of the e-application system – a system developed for officials to declare their finances - faces many challenges that will inevitably impact its effectiveness.
The most recent decision of Nazarbayev to reshuffle the Cabinet responsible for overseeing the country’s security apparatus, while keeping the rest of the Cabinet intact, should be viewed as a penultimate step towards consolidating and tightening how power rests in Kazakhstan in the lead up to any future political transition.