New Kazakh president sworn in after longtime leader resigns

New Kazakh president sworn in after longtime leader resigns
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev speaks during a televised address to the oil-rich nation in Astana, Kazakhstan, Tuesday, March 19, 2019. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the only leader that independent Kazakhstan has ever known, abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday after three decades in power, raising uncertainty over the future course of the Central Asian country. (Kazakhstan's Presidential Press Service via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Kazakhstan has sworn in Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as interim president a day after longtime leader Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned.

Tokayev, a career diplomat who had been senate speaker, can serve the remainder of Nazarbayev’s term ahead of scheduled elections next year.

Nazarbayev surprised many by announcing in a televised address Tuesday that he would step down after nearly 30 years, making Tokyaev only the second president in the country’s independent history.

Nazarbayev attended Tokayaev’s inauguration Wednesday, entering to lengthy applause from assembled dignitaries before taking a seat on a podium above and behind the lectern where Tokyaev gave an address.

Nazarbayev, who Tokayev praised as “an outstanding reformer,” will remain influential as chairman of the security council and head of the ruling party.