Kazakhstan. In March, President Nursultan Nazarbayev
approved an agreement on enhanced cooperation with three
other CIS states, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and
Belarus. According to
Countryaah.com, the states formed a joint council according to the EU model. The Russian Federation is interested in increased
cooperation due to Kazakhstan's oil resources.
In March 1994, the first multiparty elections won by
Nazarbayev's party. Shortly after the election victory, a
series of scandals about supposed corruption forced Prime
Minister Sergey Tereschenko to resign. He was replaced on
the post by Akezhan Kazhegeldin. The new head of government
immediately declared that he would accelerate the
liberalization of the economy.
In April, the government launched a comprehensive
privatization plan affecting 3,500 state-owned enterprises -
70% of state-owned property. Through 1995, the
liberalization of the economy and the country's extensive
natural resources attracted a large number of foreign
investors. But at the same time, economic reforms led to a
decline in living standards for many Kazakhs.
The Constitutional Court canceled the election results
from the previous year, and the president declared that he
would rule by post. decree until new elections could be
carried out. As a result of public discontent and fear of
not being elected to a free election with several
candidates, Nazarbayev took advantage of the political
crisis to propose that a referendum should extend his term
until 2000. The vote was held in April, and the official
result indicated that the president had almost 100% support.
In March 1996, a Customs Union was established between
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Russia with the aim of
creating a single market for goods, capital and workers. At
the same time, the agreement opened up the possibility of
integration in transport, energy and data processing.
In April 1997, Kazakhstan signed an agreement with
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on reducing the troop forces in
the area and demilitarizing the borders of the countries.
The deal followed a Russia-China agreement that was in line
with a Russian strategy of rapprochement with the Asian
neighbors, which had already been drafted under Gorbachov.
At the end of the year, Kazakhstan signed an agreement with
China on joint exploration of some of the two countries'
largest deposits of oil. In October, the government
appointed Nurlan Balgimbayev as prime minister and removed
Kazhegeldin from the post.
In March 1998, former Deputy Prime Minister Kadyr
Baikenov was appointed to head Kazatomprom - the state
nuclear energy company. It was perceived as a return of the
"old guard" attached to Nazarbayev as a result of the
"liberal" Kazhegeldin's resignation. Kazhegeldin, on the
other hand, was named President of the Union of
Industrialists and Employers.
Nazarbayev won 78% of the vote in the January 1999
presidential election. His strongest counterpart, Serkbolsyn
Abdildin of the Communist Party, had to settle for 13% of
the vote. Despite some allegations of irregularities, 80% of
voters chose to take part in the election.
In March, exports of Mig aircraft in poor condition
forced Defense Minister Mukhtar Altynbayev and Security
Council President Nurtai Abykayev to resign.
In September 99 elections were held for the Senate and in
October for Mazhilis (Lower House). Eleven parties were
registered to take part in the elections, which for the
first time had political parties. However, only 10 of the
seats in Mazhilis were occupied by the parties, while the
remaining 67 were occupied by independent candidates.
After presenting a heavily shaved finance law, Parliament
passed a declaration of mistrust to the government,
prompting Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbayev to resign on
October 1. He was replaced on the post by former Foreign
Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev.