ALMATY Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev started reshuffling his government on Thursday, a manoeuvre which could shed light on succession plans in the oil-rich Central Asian nation.
The reshuffle follows a leadership change in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan's neighbour and another former member of the Soviet Union, where Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev looked set to take over after the death of President Islam Karimov this month.
Nazarbayev, 76, who has run Kazakhstan since 1989 and has no obvious successor, moved Karim Masimov out as prime minister on Thursday and named him chairman of the state security service.
No new cabinet head was named. Deputy Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev will serve as acting prime minister, according to the order published by Nazarbayev's office.
Under the constitution, Nazarbayev will now need to propose a new prime minister to the lower house of parliament, which is dominated by his supporters. It was unclear when he would do that.
Nazarbayev's eldest daughter, Dariga, is a deputy prime minister and a promotion would identify her as heir apparent. Nazarbayev has two other daughters and no sons.
Despite the uncertainty about the new premier, Kazakhstan's dollar-bonds rose after the announcement, with longer-dated debt hitting record highs.
Masimov has run the oil-rich Central Asian nation's government since April 2014, his second stint as prime minister after heading the cabinet in 2007-2012. He has also worked as Nazarbayev's chief of staff.
Vladimir Zhumakanov, who has run the KNB security service until now, was named adviser to Nazarbayev.
(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Dmitry Solovyov, Larry King)