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World

Tightly controlled Turkmenistan holds first senate elections

  • The authorities said voting participation stood at 98.7 percent, with winners due to be declared over the next week.
Published March 28, 2021

ASHGABAT: Turkmenistan on Sunday held its first elections to a newly created senate but there were no opposition candidates in the central Asian country run by strongman ruler Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

Turkmen voted at six polling stations -- one in the capital Ashgabat and five in the regions -- during just two hours between 10:00 am (0500 GMT) and noon to choose from 112 candidates running for 48 seats in the upper house of parliament.

No foreign observers were present for the voting.

The authorities said voting participation stood at 98.7 percent, with winners due to be declared over the next week.

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who has led the former Soviet republic with an iron grip since 2006, will also designate eight additional senators.

The new two-chamber parliament, known as the Milli Genes, or National Council, will be made up of 56 senators and 125 deputies.

Profiles of candidates published by the government newspaper, Netralny Turkmenistan, indicated they were mainly civil servants.

The election marks "an important stage and a starting point for a new page in the parliamentary history of our country," the country's electoral commission said.

It "will contribute to an improvement in legislation, the modernisation of government bodies, and to the coherent democratisation of society," the commission added.

Energy-rich Turkmenistan is considered one of the most repressive countries in the world with a personality cult around the 63-year-old leader.

No opposition is tolerated in the country and the media are under strict state control.

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