07ASTANA86, KAZAKHSTAN: KARIM MASIMOV NAMED NEXT PRIME MINISTER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA86 2007-01-10 11:45 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO4176
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #0086/01 0101145
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101145Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8146
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000086 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR SCA/CEN (T. PERRY) 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL PINR KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN: KARIM MASIMOV NAMED NEXT PRIME MINISTER 
 
 
ASTANA 00000086  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. (SBU) Summary:  President Nazarbayev named Karim Masimov 
Kazakhstan's new Prime Minister on January 10, replacing Daniyal 
Akhmetov.  Masimov's nomination was approved by a joint session of 
Parliament the same day. 
Once Masimov is officially appointed to the position, he  will have 
10 days to recommend new Cabinet members for appointment by the 
President.  Masimov, an economist, worked as an assistant to 
Nazarbayev for three years before being appointed Deputy Prime 
Minister in January 2006.  Public reaction to the change has been 
modest, reflecting the widespread view that the Prime Minister 
enjoys relatively little power in Kazakhstan, and because a change 
in government has long been rumored.  Although we expect that 
Masimov will continue to be a valuable USG interlocutor, post does 
not expect that his appointment will dramatically affect either our 
bilateral relationship or the government's near-term course.  End 
summary. 
 
Nazarbayev Names Masimov Next PM 
-------------------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) On January 10, President Nazarbayev named Karim Masimov as 
Kazakhstan's new Prime Minister, replacing Daniyal Akhmetov, who 
submitted his resignation on January 8.  Masimov's nomination was 
approved by a joint session of Parliament the same day.  According 
to press reports, the vote was unanimous in favor of Masimov. 
Eleven members of the Mazhilis did not take part in the session. 
 
3. (SBU) Once Nazarbayev formally appoints Masimov - which may occur 
later today - Masimov will have 10 days in which to recommend new 
Cabinet members for appointment by the president.  Prior to this 
appointment, Masimov served as Deputy Prime Minister (and 
simultaneously for several months as Minister of Economy and Budget 
Planning), where he handled economic issues and provided overall 
strategic direction for the government.  Masimov, who worked as an 
assistant to Nazarbayev for three years prior to becoming Deputy 
Prime Minister, appears to have excellent access to Nazarbayev, as 
well as rumored close relations with influential presidential 
son-in-law Timur Kulibayev. 
 
Other Cabinet Changes 
--------------------- 
 
4. (SBU) Kazakhstan Today reported that President Nazarbayev told 
the joint session of parliament that Daniyal Akhmetov had accepted 
his offer to become the first civilian Minister of Defense. 
Nazarbayev also said that he would nominate Minister of Economy and 
Budget Planning Aslan Musin to replace Masimov as Deputy Prime 
Minister.  Musin, until recently akim of Atyrau Oblast, has little 
Astana experience but is known as an energetic and loyal supporter 
of the president.  These appointments will not take effect until the 
presidential decree appointing all of the new cabinet members is 
issued. 
 
President Consults with Ruling Party 
------------------------------------ 
 
5. (SBU) On January 8, just hours after Akhmetov's resignation, 
President Nazarbayev consulted with leaders of the ruling Nur Otan 
party on the nomination of a new Prime Minister and Cabinet. (Note: 
Nur Otan holds approximately 90% of parliamentary seats. End note.) 
Although there was no official announcement, Nur Otan party Chief of 
Staff Yermek Kusherbayev confirmed to visiting desk officer and 
Pol-Econ chief that Masimov's candidacy had been proposed during the 
meeting.   The next day, Nur Otan's parliamentary members met to 
discuss Masimov's candidacy, as well as the composition of a new 
Cabinet.  Both meetings were widely publicized in the media as the 
first occasion in Kazakhstan's history in which the President 
consulted with a political party on the appointment of a new 
Cabinet. 
 
Speculating on Reasons for Change 
--------------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) Local media has downplayed the importance of the change, 
pointing out that the Prime Minister's powers are eclipsed by those 
of President Nazarbayev.  Numerous analysts suggest that Akhmetov's 
resignation was driven by his Cabinet's failure to address key 
macro-economic issues, including inflation (the National Bank has 
issued a preliminary 2006 inflationary estimate of 8.5%) and 
anti-monopoly regulation.  Last January's cabinet change - in which 
Masimov was brought on as Deputy Prime Minister, among other moves - 
is now widely seen, in retrospect, as having stripped Akhmetov of 
key portions of the economic portfolio, perhaps foretelling his 
eventual resignation.  Other analysts see Masimov's appointment as a 
sign that the future government will concentrate on economic reform, 
leaving the issue of political reform to the Democratization 
Commission. 
 
Biographical Data 
 
ASTANA 00000086  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
----------------- 
 
7. (SBU) Masimov (an ethnic Uighur, born 6/15/65), studied at Moscow 
University of People's Friendship, the Beijing Language Institute, 
and the Kazakhstan State Economics Univers
ity, from which he 
received a doctorate in economics in 1995. In 1991 he worked as 
Legal Advisor to the Soviet Trade Representative in China; from 
1991-92 as an Economist and Department Head at the Ministry of 
Labor; and from 1992-93 as a Senior Specialist in the Ministry of 
External Economic Relations' Representative Office in Urumchi, 
China.  After working in private business from 1993-94 and as the 
Executive Director of the Kazakhstani Trading House in Hong Kong, 
Masimov worked in the banking sector from 1995-2000, finishing as 
Head of the Board of Halyk Savings Bank.  In August 2000 he was 
appointed Minister of Transport and Communications; and in November 
2001, as Deputy Prime Minister.  In June 2003 Masimov was appointed 
Assistant to President Nazarbayev, a position he held until January 
2006, when he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister.  In April 2006 he 
was given the additional responsibility of Minister of Economy and 
Budget Planning, which he held until October 2006.  Masimov is 
married, with two daughters and a son, and speaks Russian, Chinese, 
English, and Arabic. 
 
MILAS

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