Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has resigned 29 years after assuming office.
In a televised speech on Tuesday, the 78-year-old said he had made the "difficult" decision to renounce his authority as president, but gave no specific reason for the shocking decision.
"I have decided to end my term as president," Nazarbayev said before signing a decree on March 30 to end his powers. "As the founder of the independent Kazakh state, I now see my job as facilitating the rise of a new generation of leaders who will continue the ongoing reforms in the country."
Nazarbayev, who was elected for a fifth-fifth term in 201
The announcement came less than a month after Nazarbayev had dismissed his government. He claimed that economic development was inadequate despite the country's enormous energy sources.
This decision was followed by growing dissatisfaction in Kazakhstan, where commodity-dependent economies recovered only badly following a slump in oil prices in 2014 and Western sanctions on Russia, an important trading partner.
Nazarbayev called him 53 years old Askar Mamin as the new Prime Minister announced an important spending plan for social programs and state salaries.
|Nazarbayev announced no reason for his resignation [ Kazakh Presidential Press Service on Reuters]|
Valentina Matvienko, spokeswoman for the House of Lords of the Russian Parliament and close associate of President Vladimir Putin, said that Nazarbayev's resignation was unexpected and very serious, RIA reported.
In his address Nazarbayev – who was expected to seek another term in 2020 – he said he would continue to assume the leadership of the Nur Otan Party and remain in his lifelong position as chairman of the country's Security Council ,
He will continue to hold significant political decision-making powers following his resignation, thanks to his constitutional status as the "leader of the nation".
Nazarbayev headed oil-rich Kazakhstan since 1989, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. He came to power as head of the country's Communist Party and was elected president in 1991 weeks before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Since then he has prolonged his term by landslide victories in successive elections and referendums. In the 2015 elections, he had almost 98 percent of the vote.
Al Jazeera's Robin Forestier-Walker from the Georgian capital Tbilisi said Tuesday's announcement was a "big surprise" and a particularly unusual move for a Central Asian leader.
"People who run these countries tend to like to cling to power until the very last minute, if they can, and most of the time they succumb to the mortality that brings them down […] I believe what [Nazarbayev] always wanted, was an orderly change of power, "said Forestier-Walker.  "If he had died then there might have been a power struggle, and I think he always wanted to avoid that, so let's see how he wants to hand over the reins, and he'll move on to the seat of power even though he has taken this extraordinary step. "
|Kazakhstan's extensive oil reserves make it one of the richest countries in Central Asia [File: Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters]|
Nazarbayev was widely acclaimed for maintaining stability and ethnic peace in Kazakhstan Allegations of oppression of the opposition and dismissal of the opposition.
Radio Free Europe said in a report that the resignation of Nazarbayev was followed by "unusually stubborn protests in which protesters in several cities across the country accused the government of ignoring politics to have needs and requirements of ordinary people ".
Obwo Although Kazakhstan has a low population density, it is the ninth-largest country in the world with an area of around 2.7 million square kilometers. It borders Russia to the north and China to the east, and has extensive oil reserves that make it strategically and economically important.
The resignation of Nazarbayev will create the conditions for a possible fight between Russia and the USA for influence on the subsequent government.
Al Jazeera and news agencies