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Turkmenistan sets Feb. 11 date for election replace late authoritarian leader

Turkmenistan sets Feb. 11 date for election replace late authoritarian leader

Turkmenistan's top legislative body said on Tuesday it was setting Feb. 11 as the date for elections to replace longtime authoritarian leader Saparmurat Niyazov, who died last week.
The date was set by the People's Council, about 2,500 lawmakers who were either elected or appointed. The council also was to name the candidates for the election, a move expected later in the day.
Acting President Gurbungali Berdymukhamedov said last week that the presidential election would be held "on a democratic basis that has been laid by the great leader" _ seen as an indication that Turkmenistan does not plan a pluralistic election.
Turkmenistan has only one legal political party _ the Turkmenistan Democratic Party _ and opposition is tightly suppressed. Opposition leaders living abroad have said they intend to return to Turkmenistan following Niyazov's death, but have not succeeded.
Questions about how closely the constitutional procedures would be followed arose within hours of the announcement of Niyazov's death. The Constitution says the speaker of Parliament should become acting president, but the role was taken by Berdymukhamedov, the deputy prime minister, and a criminal case was opened against the Parliament speaker.
Berdymukhamedov's unexpected rise to acting president sparked speculation of an internal power struggle.
The constitution says the acting president is not allowed to run for the full office _ but the People's Council has the right to change the constitution.
Stability in Turkmenistan is of interest to both the West and Russia. Turkmenistan has enormous natural gas reserves and occupies a geographically strategic position, bordering both Afghanistan and Iran.


Updated : 2021-06-19 09:22 GMT+08:00