ASHGABAT (TCA) — State television in Turkmenistan reported on November 23 that the only son of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has become a member of parliament.
Serdar Berdymukhammedov is now representing the Ahal province after winning a November 20 election to replace a deputy who resigned from parliament, RFE/RL reported.
In July, President Berdymukhammedov appointed his son to a management post in the Foreign Ministry.
He previously has worked in other government positions, including the post of deputy agriculture minister.
Serdar Berdymukhammedov’s political appointments and candidacy in the November 20 by-election is seen by political analysts as a sign that he is being groomed to eventually succeed his father as president.
According to some sources, in 2008-2011 Serdar Berdymukhammedov studied international relations in the Diplomatic Academy of Russia’s Foreign Ministry, the Fergana information agency reported.
Little is known about the family of the Turkmen president. Besides the son Serdar, he has three daughters and four grandchildren.
Constitutional amendments, signed by President Berdymukhammedov after approval by the rubber-stamp parliament and the Council of Elders in September 2016, scrap a rule that barred anyone over the age of 70 from presidential ballots, thus paving the way for his potential lifelong rule.
The amendments also extended future presidential terms to seven years from the current five.
The 70-year age ceiling was the only legal obstacle preventing Berdymukhammedov, 59, from running for office as long as he lives. The Turkmen Constitution places no limit on the number of terms he can serve.
A dentist by training and a former deputy prime minister, Berdymukhammedov was appointed president by Turkmenistan’s Security Council following the death of eccentric autocrat Saparmurat Niyazov in December 2006. Berdymukhammedov is now serving his second term and is all but certain to win by a landslide if he runs, as expected, in the next presidential vote in 2017.