Kazakh leader hands over ruling party leadership to ally

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Kazakh President Tokayev attends a festival marking holiday Nauryz in Almaty

NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) - Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev quit the ruling Amanat party on Tuesday and handed over the chairmanship to an ally, part of his plan to make the oil-rich Central Asian nation's political landscape more competitive.

Amanat, previously known as Nur Otan, dominates the former Soviet republic's parliament and local councils, but Tokayev has said he wants more political groups to emerge and has moved to ease registration requirements for new parties.

Elected president in 2019, Tokayev reinforced his position this year by sidelining his predecessor and former patron Nursultan Nazarbayev. He then announced plans for a broad range of reforms, including to the constitution.

Delegates at the Amanat congress on Tuesday voted to support Tokayev's nominee Yerlan Koshanov, speaker of the lower house of parliament and previously the president's chief of staff.

Kazakhstan held an election to the lower house last year. The next one is not due until 2026, but Kazakhstan has a history of early elections, and calling one after constitutional and electoral reforms could help Tokayev to reshape parliament.

(Reporting by Tamara Vaal; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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