Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Tuesday announced his resignation.
“I have decided to step down from the office of president,” said the septuagenarian leader, who has ruled Kazakhstan since its independence in 1991.
His address was broadcast by all Kazakh national TV channels.
Until elections for his replacement, Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, the head of the Kazakh Senate, will carry out the presidential duties.
Nazarbayev, who is 78, is the first Central Asian leader of the post-Soviet era to willingly leave office.
In late February, Nazarbayev dismissed the country’s government, citing a lack of economic growth, and pledging new reforms to improve people’s quality of life.