MOSCOW — The 78-year-old president of Kazakhstan, the oil-rich former Soviet republic in Central Asia, announced Tuesday that he was resigning after 30 years in power.
The announcement by the president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, one of the longest-serving leaders to navigate the breakup of the Soviet Union, was considered a surprise.
He made his announcement on national television, but did not indicate precisely what future role he might play in the Kazakhstan hierarchy.
“Until my dying day, I will stay with you,” he said. “Concerns of the people will stay my concerns.”
Mr. Nazarbayev has led Kazakhstan since 1989, first as the leader of its Communist Party and then as president. He has attracted enormous investments from foreign energy companies to develop the nation’s oil reserves, which, at an estimated 30 billion barrels, are among the largest of all the former Soviet republics.
He has also maintained a cordial relationship with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, where Mr. Nazarbayev’s resignation announcement was repeated on Russian state television.
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