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Turkmen media run biographies of presidential candidates

Turkmen media run biographies of presidential candidates

Official media on Wednesday carried the biographies of six presidential candidates who will run in elections to succeed the ex-Soviet republic's late leader.
The People's Council, the country's highest legislative body, selected the candidates on Tuesday, giving strong indications that its preferred choice for the Feb. 11 vote is acting President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov.
The move dimmed hopes among exiled opposition leaders and human rights groups for reforms following the death last week of Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan's president for life, after 21 years of unchallenged rule.
Niyazov, who called himself Turkmenbashi _ Father of All Turkmen _ tolerated no dissent and cultivated an all-encompassing personality cult.
As interim leader, Berdymukhamedov was ineligible to run for president, but the Council, a 2,500-strong assembly of hand-picked officials and elders, removed the obstacle by changing the constitution and unanimously backed his candidacy.
Before rising to acting president, Berdymukhamedov, 49, was deputy prime minister.
The other candidates are Ishanguly Nuryyev, 51, who from 2005 has served as deputy minister of oil and gas; Ashyrniyaz Pomanov, 44, mayor of the town of Turkmenbashi; Mukhammednazar Gurbanov, head of the Karabekaul district; Orazmyrad Garadzhayev, 46, mayor of the town of Abadan; and Amanyaz Atadzhikov, 59, deputy governor of northern Dashoguz Region.
The publication on Wednesday of the candidates' biographies in the media, which are entirely state-controlled, could signal that the election campaign will be tightly controlled and proceed according to an official scenario.
Election chief Murad Kariyev promised Tuesday that he would "do everything" to make sure Berdymukhamedov wins "because he is a worthy candidate."
Kariyev also pledged that all candidates would have access to media, the election will be open to foreign observers and voters will use transparent ballot boxes.
Other campaign rules were expected to become clear after the publication of a new election law adopted Tuesday by the People's Council.
Under the Turkmen Constitution, the president is elected for five years. However, parliament abolished term restrictions for Niyazov in 1999.
Turkmens last elected a president in 1992, giving Niyazov 95.5 percent of their votes.
The United Democratic Opposition of Turkmenistan, UDOT, said Wednesday its candidate for president, Nurberdy Nurmammedov, leader of the Agzybirlik, or Voice of Unity, democratic movement has been missing in Ashgabad since Saturday.
Authorities told Nurmammedov's family that they had no information about his whereabouts, UDOT said on its Web site. It said Nurmammedov disappeared after giving an interview to the U.S.-funded Radio Liberty, expressing hopes for democratic changes after Niyazov's death.
One of the exiled opposition leaders, Turkmenistan's former Central Bank chief Khudaiberdy Orazov, told The Associated Press that Nurmammedov was reported to have been arrested and put in prison.
UDOT is led by Former Foreign Minister Avdy Kuliyev, who lives in Norway.
The desert nation, a major supplier of natural gas to Russia and Europe, lies north of Afghanistan and Iran. It is part of Central Asia, a predominantly Muslim region where several post-Soviet regimes face the threat of Islamic radicalism.


Updated : 2020-12-06 07:24 GMT+08:00