Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev has removed the head of the Central Asian country's security service after it clashed publicly with other law enforcement bodies.

 

 

Amangeldy Shabdarbayev, head of the KNB security service, was moved to the post of adviser to Nazarbayev, the president's office said in a statement late on Monday.

 

Nazarbayev has yet to announce a new security service head.

 

Political analysts said the infighting between Kazakh security bodies and agencies was a sign of deepening rifts among the elite of the oil-rich country, where different groups compete for influence with the veteran president.

 

Kazakh prosecutors this month accused several officers of the KNB, a successor to the Soviet-era KGB, of abuse of office after they arrested an officer from another law enforcement agency, on drug-related charges in a widely publicised case.

 

"Clashes between the security agencies have happened for a long time but now they have become public which hurts the government and ultimately the president," analyst Dosym Satpayev told Reuters.

 

"Security forces have become active players, acting either on their own or as instruments in the hands of the elite."

 

Nazarbayev, 69, has run the former Soviet state since 1989 and wields sweeping powers. He can serve an unlimited number of terms and has given no hints of potential successors.

 

Kazakhstan, due next year to chair the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the continent's key security and human rights body, has come under fire from human rights officials who say it silences critics at home instead of addressing issues of democracy.

 

 

(Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Andrew Dobbie)

 

Reuters