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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nazarbayev Ally Unanimously Confirmed as Prime Minister

ReutersKarim Masimov
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A close ally of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev became the new head of government Wednesday after winning the parliament's swift and unanimous approval.

Nazarbayev nominated Deputy Prime Minister Karim Masimov following the resignation Monday of Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov, who had held the post since 2003, in the wake of criticism of his performance.

Masimov "has a clear understanding and an action plan in all areas of [government] activity," Nazarbayev told the parliament.

Masimov, 41, a lawyer and economist, earlier served as minister of transport and communications and as Nazarbayev's chief aide.

"Continuity in the principles of government is one of the most important conditions of sustained economic and social development," Masimov said in parliament.

He told Nazarbayev: "I have been, am now and will remain, your faithful assistant."

Aides said Masimov will be making no policy statements for now, but his first moves will be watched closely by oil majors Chevron, Eni SpA and Shell, which have invested billions of dollars in Kazakh energy projects. The previous government adopted a law -- criticized by the oil majors -- that gives the state oil company a 50 percent stake in future projects while foreign companies would bear the burden of exploration costs.

The prime minister's power is limited though because Nazarbayev dominates political life.

(Reuters, AP)