Central Asia & Caucasus

Early presidential election to be held in Turkmenistan

by Al Jazeera

Turkmenistan will hold an early presidential election on March 12, a Central Election Commission official said after President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov hinted he planned to resign.

“The president … gave us an instruction to prepare for early presidential elections on March 12,” a spokesman for the election commission, Bezergen Garrayev, told the AFP news agency by telephone.

Berdymukhamedov has run the gas-rich Central Asian nation since 2006 with sweeping powers and no effective opposition. His 40-year-old son Serdar, a deputy prime minister, is seen as the likely successor.

The 64-year-old leader, whose current term was set to end in 2024, is also the prime minister of the former Soviet republic and speaker of the upper house of parliament.

In his strongest hint yet that he wants to resign, the country’s leader said late on Friday that he reached “a difficult decision” about his leadership because of his age, adding that the country needed “young leaders”.

“The road to governance at this new stage in the development of our country should be given to young leaders who have been brought up in a spiritual environment and in accordance with the high requirements of our time,” Berdymukhamedov said, in quotes relayed by the state information agency.

Berdymukhamedov offered no timeframe for stepping down but said he wished to remain in politics in his role as chairman of parliament’s upper chamber.

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