Turkmenistan: president appoints his son deputy foreign minister

Serdar Berdymukhammedov

ASHGABAT (TCA) — Turkmenistan’s authoritarian president has appointed his son to a senior post in the Central Asian state’s Foreign Ministry, a move that comes amid what political analysts say are signs he is being groomed as a presidential successor, RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service reported.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov’s appointment of his only son, Serdar, as deputy foreign minister was announced in a one-sentence statement published on March 30 by the government’s official news site.

Serdar Berdymukhammedov, 36, has headed the parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee since March 2017 and was reelected to parliament in a ballot last month. He defeated his opponent overwhelmingly in an election featuring candidates ultimately loyal to the president.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, 60, has ruled the gas-rich former Soviet republic since his autocratic predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, died in December 2006.

Government critics and human rights groups say he has suppressed dissent and made few changes in the restrictive country since he came to power.

Before he became a lawmaker in November 2016, Serdar Berdymukhammedov was chief of the Foreign Ministry’s information department.

In March, he was part of a Turkmen delegation to neighboring Kazakhstan, where he was photographed meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Nazarbayev’s office said the two men discussed Kazakh-Turkmen ties ahead of a summit of Central Asian leaders in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, on March 15.

President Berdymukhammedov, who did not attend the Astana summit, also has three daughters and four grandchildren.

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Times of Central Asia