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Kazakh leader blames ex-president for creating ‘layer of wealthy people’

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NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan:xc2xa0Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Tuesday accused his predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev, of creating a caste of wealthy elite, after unrest erupted last week, amid anger over poverty.

In rare criticism of his 81-year-old mentor, who for decades was the most powerful person in Kazakhstan, Tokayev said that Nazarbayevxe2x80x99s rule had created xe2x80x9ca layer of wealthy people, even by international standardsxe2x80x9d.

xe2x80x9cI believe that the time has come to pay tribute to the people of Kazakhstan and help them on a systematic and regular basis,xe2x80x9d Tokayev said, noting that xe2x80x9cvery profitable companiesxe2x80x9d would be asked to pay money into a state fund.

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In a video address to officials and lawmakers, Tokayev said that he expected xe2x80x9cactive participation from [the] people who possess huge wealth but keep in the shadowsxe2x80x9d.

The comments mark the first time career diplomat Tokayev has publicly criticised the man who chose him as his handpicked successor in 2019, despite earlier rumours of tensions between the pair.

In another significant move, Tokayev announced plans to bring an end to a widely criticised private recycling monopoly linked to the former presidentxe2x80x99s youngest daughter, 41-year-old Aliya Nazarbayeva.

xe2x80x9cThis should be done by a state organisation, as is the case in foreign countries,xe2x80x9d he said.

Tokayev referred to Nazarbayev on Tuesday as Elbasy, or xe2x80x9cLeader of the Nationxe2x80x9d, a constitutional status that affords the former leader unique policy-making powers and immunity from prosecution.

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