Turkmenistan to hold next presidential election in February

ASHGABAT (TCA) — The Turkmen parliament on October 15 defined February 12, 2017 as the date of the next presidential election in Turkmenistan, the State News Agency of Turkmenistan reports.

The announcement comes a month after Turkmenistan passed constitutional changes which removed barriers to incumbent President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov’s lifelong rule, RFE/RL reported.

The amendments, signed by Berdymukhammedov last month after approval by the rubber-stamp parliament and the Council of Elders on September 14, scrap a rule that barred anyone over 70 from presidential ballots in the country.

They also extend future presidential terms to seven years from the current five.

The state news agency also said that the Democratic Party, the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, and the Agrarian Party would all present their own presidential candidates.

All three parties strongly support Berdymukhammedov’s rule.

Berdymukhammedov, 59, won elections by landslides in 2007 and 2012 after coming to power following the death of Sapurmurat Niyazov in late 2006.

Gas-rich Turkmenistan is one of the most isolated countries in the world and has never held an election that was deemed fair and democratic by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Rights groups say dissent is not tolerated, government critics are routinely jailed or placed in psychiatric hospitals, and the country has no independent media.

Sergey Kwan

TCA

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.
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Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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