Kazakhstan is divided into 14 oblasts (provinces); the cities of Almaty, Astana, and Bayqongyr have special administrative status equivalent to that of oblasts . The 14 oblasts are in turn divided into rayons (districts). As of 1999, there were 84 cities, 159 rayons , 241 settlements, and 2,049 auls (villages). Each oblast, rayon , and settlement has its own elective assembly, charged with drawing up a budget and supervising local taxation. Cities have local assemblies as well; if large enough, cities are also divided into rayons , each with its own assembly. These assemblies are also elected for five-year terms. The number of oblasts was reduced from 19 to 14 in 1997 under the government's consolidation program.
The oblast and rayon assemblies do not choose the local executives. According to the 1995 constitution, the local executives, known as glavs or akims , are appointed by the president, upon recommendation by the prime minister. The akims serve at the pleasure of the president, and he has the power to annul their decisions. The akim appoints the members of his staff, who become the local department heads. There is some discussion of shifting to local election of the regional akims .