Kazakh succession unclear as Nazarbayev's daughter stays out of parliament

Dariga Nazarbayeva, Kazakhstan's deputy prime minister and daughter of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, visits a polling station during a snap parliamentary election in Astana, Kazakhstan, March 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov

ALMATY (Reuters) - Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s daughter Dariga will not become a member of parliament despite running on the list of his Nur Otan party, a document showed on Thursday, throwing open the question of succession in Central Asia’s biggest economy.

Some observers had expected Dariga Nazarbayeva, currently deputy prime minister, to join the lower house after a parliamentary election on Sunday and become its speaker, making her a potential successor to the 75-year-old president.

But despite Nur Otan winning 82 percent support in the vote, which Western observers say fell short of democratic standards, Nazarbayeva was not among the nominated MPs on Nur Otan’s list of deputies published by Nazarbayev’s office.

“As the election campaign was already unfolding, (Nazarbayev) changed his goals with regards to a potential reshuffle,” said Moscow-based political analyst Arkady Dubnov.

“Serious fighting between different groups continues,” he added, while Nazarbayev “will not give up his powers for as long as he lives”.

The question of who will take over from Nazarbayev has for years puzzled foreign investors with billions of dollars in exposure to the oil-rich nation.

The former steel worker has run the nation of 18 million people since 1989, first as Communist party boss and then as elected president with sweeping powers. He secured another five-year term in an election last April but has not announced any clear succession plans.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov and Mariya Gordeyeva; Editing by Hugh Lawson