Turkmenistan's interim government on Sunday announced the building of the first posthumous monument to President Saparmurat Niyazov, who filled the country with tributes to himself during his 21-year rule.
Niyazov died Dec. 21 at age 66. The country's interim leadership resolved Saturday to build a new monument to Niyazov in the capital, Ashgabat, and to unveil it on his birthday, Feb. 19, which is also celebrated as Day of the National Flag, state television said.
Niyazov developed an all-encompassing personality cult during his iron-fisted rule, ordering citizens to call him "Turkmenbashi," or Father of all Turkmen.
Niyazov named towns, mosques and the month of January after himself, crushing opposition and requiring children to read his spiritual ruminations daily.
Niyazov's visage adorns the country's currency and statues of him were put up throughout the arid, impoverished land, including a golden one in the capital that rotates to follow the sun's path.
On Tuesday, the country's highest legislative body, the People's Council, selected six candidates to run in Feb. 11 elections to succeed Niyazov, while giving a strong indication that its preferred choice is acting President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov.
The move dimmed hopes for reform following Niyazov's death in the gas-rich Central Asian nation, which lies north of Afghanistan and Iran and is of strategic interest to regional powers Russia and China as well as to the West.