New Kazakh president proposes renaming capital as ‘Nursultan’

New Kazakh president proposes renaming capital as ‘Nursultan’

ASTANA- Agence France-Presse
New Kazakh president proposes renaming capital as ‘Nursultan’

The head of Kazakhstan's Senate was sworn in as president in a pomp-filled ceremony on March 20, and immediately proposed renaming the country's capital after his predecessor.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, the only leader an independent Kazakhstan has ever known, shocked the nation on March 19 with his resignation after nearly three decades in power.

  But Nazarbayev, 78, will retain significant influence thanks to his constitutional status as "Leader of the Nation" and lifelong position as chief of the country's security council.

His first announcement after his swearing in before the upper and lower houses of parliament, Tokayev said the capital Astana should be renamed after Nazarbayev.  In the broadcast ceremony, Tokayev told deputies that Nazarbayev had "demonstrated wisdom" in deciding to resign.

"Yesterday the world witnessed a historic event," Tokayev said, hailing Nazarbayev as a visionary "reformer."

“The results of independent Kazakhstan are there for all to see," President Tokayev added.   "I propose naming the country's capital Astana in honor of the first president," Tokayev said, suggesting the new name be "Nursultan.”

Nazarbayev, also present, was applauded for several minutes by assembled lawmakers as he took a seat at the head of the session.