Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Caspian: Abdenov sacked
Labour and Social Protection Minister Serik Abdenov has been sacked, weeks after he endured a very public egging in a row over pension reform. The young moderniser, who was only appointed in September, was dismissed on 10 June as the controversial pension reform bill was sent back to parliament by a disgruntled Nursultan Nazarbaev. In the interim he has been replaced by his deputy, Tamara Duissenova.
The pension reform has become an increasingly divisive issue, attracting outpourings of public anger. At the end of April Abdenov was pelted with eggs by a Communist activist in Almaty after a series of public meetings in which his inability to explain the rise in retirement age (from 58 to 63 for women) had led to anger and scorn. His explanation that "You all have to work, because, my dear countrymen, just because, just because...” attracted ridicule on social media, and despite his otherwise good record he was considered unable to continue effectively.
President Nazarbaev had returned the pension reform bill to Parliament three days before, saying that “the government and the National Bank have failed to explain the new pension legislation to the people”. He called for the start of the gradual rise in retirement age to begin at the start of 2018, not next year as planned.
Some activists have expressed satisfaction with the president's decision to intervene on behalf of the people. Although there was not massive public opposition, many women's groups in particular did publicly criticise the bill at a number of meetings and events. Analysts have suggested that the president was willing to back down in this case rather than risk provoking further hostility.
© 2013 Menas Associates