Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has led the country since independence from the Soviet Union, has announced his resignation.
In a televised address, he said the decision had “not been simple” but gave no reason for the move.
Mr Nazarbayev, 78, has been largely unchallenged since he became leader of the oil-rich nation in 1989.
“I have decided to give up my powers as president,” he said in an address.
Mr Nazarbayev said the speaker of the upper house of parliament, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, would take over as acting president for the remainder of his term which expires in March 2020.
The leader, who had been expected to seek re-election, became lifelong head of Kazakhstan’s influential security council last May.
He will also remain as head of the ruling party and will hold the formal title Leader of the Nation.