Head of Kazakh state holding company named economy minister

Reuters News
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Posted: May 06, 2016 6:32 AM

ASTANA (Reuters) - Kuandyk Bishimbayev, chief executive of a state financial holding company, was named Kazakhstan's economy minister on Friday following the resignation of his predecessor over public protests against a planned land reform, the ministry said.

Yerbolat Dosayev, whose ministry had helped develop a plan to privatize large swathes of farmland, resigned on Thursday, when President Nursultan Nazarbayev criticized his cabinet for failing to adequately explain the policy to the public.

Hundreds of Kazakhs have taken to the streets over the last two weeks to protest against the land reform, saying they fear it would allow foreigners to take over farmland. Some analysts say the issue is a trigger for the expression of broader discontent.

Nazarbayev on Thursday delayed the reform and promised to shelve it if it failed to win public support.

Bishimbayev, 36, has since 2013 run Baiterek, a state holding company which controls financial institutions such as the Development Bank of Kazakhstan and the Kazakhstan Mortgage Company.

He takes over as Kazakhstan's oil-dominated economy is slowing sharply due to the collapse of energy prices. Some analysts predict negative growth this year.

(Reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Andrew Roche)