Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev on Monday asked Prime Minister Karim Massimov to head his powerful presidential administration amid ongoing jostling to succeed the veteran strongman.
A government source said Massimov's place will be taken by First Deputy Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov -- a close ally of Nazarbayev who has also sworn allegiance to the resource-rich nation's only post-Soviet head of state.
"Massimov will head the presidential administration of Kazakhstan," an unnamed government source told the RIA Novosti news agency.
The Twitter account of the Kazakh president confirmed that Massimov had been dismissed from his old post "in connection with a submitted application" and appointed to his new assignment.
The moves still have to be approved by the ruling party-dominated parliament before coming into force.
"The presidential administration is an institution that impacts all aspects of Kazakh life. It essentially control parliament," said respected independent political analyst Dosym Satpayev.
"Massimov had economic duties before. Now he is a political manager," said the analyst. "He definitely does not lose from this -- he only wins."
The 72-year-old Nazarbayev enjoys ultimate power in the Central Asian nation of 17 million and after winning a new five-year term with 95.5 percent of the vote last year said he had the ability to rule the country for another decade.
But analysts and investors believe this centralisation is a liability for the booming nation -- on good terms with world powers and a top global supplier of resources.
The man known as "leader of the nation" (Elbasy) appeared to tear up one succession plan last year by ousting Timur Kulibayev -- husband of his daughter Dinara -- from a top energy post in the wake of deadly worker strikes.
Premier Massimov was seen by some as Kulibayev's main rival who preferred to stay out of the public limelight and orchestrate policy from behind the scenes.
Investors credit the 47-year-old -- at his post since 2007 -- with helping raise new Western interest in Kazakhstan through business-friendly policies that include tax and custom tariff breaks for major foreign firms.
Kazakhstan has also been credited by the World Bank with making some of the biggest strides among emerging power nations while achieving strong annual growth of 10 percent over the preceding decade.
Massimov replaces Aslan Musna as administration chief. An official statement said only that the latter -- a man who analysts said has failed to make an impression on Kazakh political circles -- had been moved to a different post.
The rubber-stamp parliament is expected to approve the government changes within the coming days. Massimov's candidacy was formally submitted on Monday.
Massimov -- a Chinese and English speaker who also studied Arabic -- will then have 10 days to submit a new cabinet lineup for Nazarbayev's approval.
The economist by training has previously served in Kazakhstan's vital natural resource ministry and worked as Kazakhstan's official trade representative to Hong Kong.
He also held posts as chairman of two large local banks and now serves as one of the most important points of contact for potential Western investors.
Massimov is also believed to have played an instrumental role in hiring former British premier Tony Blair as an official Kazakh government economic adviser.