ASTANA The upper chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament picked President Nursultan Nazarbayev's daughter Dariga to chair its international affairs and security committee on Friday, stopping short of naming her to the more powerful post of speaker or deputy speaker.
The Senate speaker takes over as interim president if the incumbent leader dies or becomes unfit for the job and the potential promotion of Dariga Nazarbayeva, 53, to such a position would have identified her as a strong candidate to succeed her 76-year-old father in due course.
Before joining the Senate, Nazarbayeva served as deputy prime minister for a year, prompting speculation she could eventually replace Nazarbayev, in power since 1989. Friday's move by the Senate leaves the succession question wide open.
The Kazakh leader, who wields sweeping powers, has never officially designated a successor and foreign investors see the transition of power in the oil-rich former Soviet republic as a key source of political risk.
Nazarbayeva left the cabinet in a broad reshuffle this month, less than two weeks after the death of another Central Asian leader, Uzbek President Islam Karimov, from a stroke at the age of 78.
Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev has now emerged as a likely successor and was on Friday nominated as a candidate in the December 4 election.
(Reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Gareth Jones)