Turkmenistan votes, the president’s son should win | News
Nine candidates are in the running but Serdar Berdymukhamedov, son of the incumbent, should triumph.
Voting is underway in Turkmenistan for a tightly controlled snap election, with the son of incumbent President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov set to win the poll in the former Soviet Central Asian nation.
Nine candidates are in the running in the republic of six million inhabitants. Three-time President Berdymukhamedov, who tolerates no opposition and has dominated public life since the death of the country’s founding president in 2006, gave way to his 40-year-old son, Serdar Berdymukhamedov.
A state television presenter confirming the start of voting at 7 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Saturday said the elections “will become even clearer proof of the irreversibility of the democratization process of modern Turkmen society”.
Polling stations across the desert nation close at 7:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m. GMT).
Gurbanguly, 64, signaled his decision to step down last month and allow “young leaders” to rule.
The 64-year-old leader enjoys a glitzy cult of leadership that includes a gilded statue of him on horseback and draws comparisons to North Korea – a country that has already seen two hereditary successions.
Turkmen state television’s flattering celebrations of his hobbies – horseback riding, songwriting and rally car driving, to name a few – have made the so-called ” protector” a phenomenon on foreign social networks, which are all blocked.
The leader, who says his country has not suffered a single case of coronavirus, said last month he wanted to remain in politics in his role as speaker of the upper house of Turkmenistan’s parliament.
Much less is known about Serdar Berdymukhamedov, whose government promotions received little public attention until he entered parliament in 2016.
Since then, he has served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Head of Province and Minister of Industry and Construction.
Last year, he earned a triple promotion, serving as vice-president of the cabinet, auditor-general and member of the security council.
Civil servant Selbi Nepesova, 39, told AFP news agency that Serdar Berdymukhamedov’s official biography proves he is “the most experienced” of the candidates, despite being younger than his rivals, whose most are lower-ranking officials.
“People who worked with him know more about him than us simple people. He will have his father by his side,” the Ashgabat resident said, explaining her decision to vote for him.
Turkmenistan’s economy is almost entirely dependent on natural gas sales, making it vulnerable to external shocks that have crippled the purchasing power of citizens, who do not have access to hard currency.
The country sits on the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world and exports gas through pipelines to China and Russia.
Turkmen state media has almost completely ignored the bloody war unfolding in Europe.
But on Friday he referred to “complicated circumstances” in Ukraine in a report on the evacuation of Turkmen students forced to flee the country.
Predictably, the spokesperson credited the incumbent president with ensuring the evacuation.
The returning students “expressed their deep and heartfelt gratitude to the leader of the nation for his truly fatherly care,” the state news service TDH said.
Turkmenistan’s upcoming father-son exchange will be the first of its kind in Central Asia, despite longtime predictions about family rule in Turkmenistan’s larger neighbors Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
An inauguration ceremony is scheduled for March 19, TDH said on Friday.
Across the Caspian Sea in the Caucasus region, Azerbaijan became the first ex-Soviet country to establish a dynasty when its current president, Ilham Aliyev, took the helm upon the death of father Heydar Aliyev in 2003.
Tajikistan, the bloc’s poorest successor state, is expected to follow a similar path, with upper house leader Rustam Emomali, 34, in pole position to succeed veteran leader Emomali Rahmon, 69, if Rahmon takes his retires or proves unable to perform his duties.