The long-serving president of oil-rich Kazakhstan says he will stand again in snap April elections, and he is all but guaranteed to win.

Kazinform state news agency reported that the ruling Nur Otan party formally nominated President Nursultan Nazarbayev, 74, to run during its congress Wednesday in the capital, Astana.

Nazarbayev has maintained a firm grip over power in the vast and sparsely populated Central Asian nation for more than two decades. Genuine opposition has been actively repressed and critics of the government either jailed or chased into exile.

Kazakhstan's economy has surged on the back of energy and mineral riches. But plummeting prices for oil and Kazakhstan's interdependence with neighboring Russia, whose economy is entering a period of extended doldrums, are threatening to usher in stagnation.