Turkmenistan: parliamentary election seen as potential lift to president’s son

ASHGABAT (TCA) — On March 25, voters in Turkmenistan cast their ballots in parliamentary elections. Turkmen could choose from three political parties and some independents, although all the candidates are ultimately loyal to President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, RFE/RL reported.

One of the candidates was the president’s only son, Serdar Berdymukhammedov, 36, who is considered a likely presidential successor by many observers.

Official data showed that some 91.7 percent of registered voters had cast their ballots by the time polls closed.

Polling stations greeted voters with national music, dance shows, and snacks.

In January, the Washington-based Freedom House nongovernmental group listed Turkmenistan among the 12 “worst of the worst countries” for political freedom and civil liberties.

None of the previous elections has been deemed free or fair by Western monitors. Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov won his third presidential term in February with 97 percent of the vote.

Some 284 candidates were competing for 125 seats in parliament, which is largely a rubber-stamp body for Berdymukhamedov.

But the vote could be seen as further bolstering the profile of Serdar Berdymukhammedov, who defended a seat in the Akhal region near the capital, Ashgabat, and was likely to capture an easy victory.

Little is known about him, although some information was released in an official biography this month. The statement said he worked in the state oil and gas industry and the Foreign Ministry before taking his parliamentary seat.

Earlier this month, Serdar Berdymukhammedov was part of a Turkmen delegation to neighboring Kazakhstan, where he was photographed meeting President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The current speaker of the parliament, Akja Nurberdieva, is 61 years old, and many experts say that if she should decide to give up her post, Serdar Berdymukhammedov would be in a position to assume the post, which would technically put him first in line to the presidency.

Most of the candidates were from the three registered political parties — the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan (DPT, formerly the Communist Party); the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, founded in 2012; and, making its first appearance in parliamentary elections, the Agrarian Party, founded in 2014.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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