- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 9, 2019

MOSCOW (AP) - Kazakhstan’s interim president on Tuesday ordered an early presidential election for June 9 following the unexpected resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev last month.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who became the acting head of state when Nazarbayev resigned, said in a televised address to the nation that the vote will be held on June 9.

Tokayev, formerly the speaker of the upper house of parliament, hasn’t yet announced his intention to seek the presidency. Pundits saw him and Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter as the two most likely candidates to succeed Nazarbayev.

Dariga Nazarbayeva, who has been named parliament speaker after Tokayev became acting president, has remained coy about her plans.

Her aide said Tuesday in remarks carried by the Tengrinews agency that she has no intention to run, but Nazarbayeva herself downplayed the statement just a few hours later.

She noted that it will be up to political parties to nominate presidential candidates, but wouldn’t say if she would accept an offer to run for president.

Her father took the helm in Kazakhstan when it was still part of the Soviet Union and led it for three decades.

The 78-year-old has retained the honorary title of “Elbasy” or “Leader of the Nation” and is expected to continue to wield considerable political power as chairman of the nation’s Security Council and the head of the ruling Nur Otan party.

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