Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev has appointed his top political advisor to the much more minor role of ambassador to Georgia, in the latest enigmatic change at the top of the energy-rich Central Asian state.
Yermukhamet Yertysbayev has been named ambassador to Georgia by presidential decree, Nazarbayev's office said in a statement late Wednesday while giving no further details.
Yertysbayev was seen as a key figure in Nazarbayev's circle and frequently spoke in public about the political development of the tightly-controlled state which has been run by Nazarbayev since before the fall of the USSR.
The reasons for the apparent sidelining of Yertysbayev are not clear but his move is the latest key change at the top in Kazakhstan as speculation swirls over the succession to the 72-year-old Nazarbayev.
Nazarbayev's son-in-law and one time heir apparent Timur Kulibayev lost his job as head of the vast state holding company Samruk-Kazyna after deadly labour riots in the Caspian Sea region in 2011.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Karim Massimov was made head of the presidential administration in 2012 what was seen as a major promotion for one of the key members of Nazarbayev's inner circle.