Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the only man to lead the country since it emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s has resigned.

In a televised address on Tuesday, weeks after the he sacked the country’s government, the 78-year-old Nazarbayev said although his decision to resign was not easy, he wanted to help nurture a new generation of leaders.

Mr. Nazarbayev who has been largely unchallenged as leader of the oil-rich nation since 1989 will however retain much of his influence as head of the governing party.

He will also remain at the helm of the influential Security Council and will hold the formal title of Leader of the Nation, using his powers to determine the country’s external and domestic policies.

“I see my task now in facilitating the rise of a new generation of leaders who will continue the reforms that are under way in the country,” Nazarbayev said in the televised statement.

He added that the Speaker of the country’s upper house of parliament, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev would take over as Acting President for the remainder of his term which expires in April 2020.