Turkmenistan's president wins 97% of vote


Monday 13 February 2012 16:16
Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov has won a new five-year term
Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov has won a new five-year term

Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov won a new five-year term by capturing 97 per cent of the vote, election officials said today, but a Western expert called the vote a democratic sham.

All of Berdymukhamedov's seven opponents praised his leadership in their campaigns, making the authoritarian leader's victory in yesterday's election a mere formality. Berdymukhamedov improved on his 2007 performance, in which he secured his first term in this Central Asian nation with 89 per cent of the vote.

Central Election Commission chief Orazmyrat Niyazliyev called the vote democratic and said it contributed to national unity.

But Annette Bohr, an expert on Turkmenistan at the London-based Chatham House institute, said the election presented only the facade of a democratic process.

"It is the typical faux democracy that you see in so many countries," Bohr said.

Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic of 5 million that borders the Caspian Sea, is the subject of avid interest from the West, Russia and China for its natural gas reserves, which are estimated to be the fourth largest in the world.

Berdymukhamedov, a 54-year-old dentist, came to power after the 2006 death of his eccentric, iron-fisted predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, amid promises of opening up the country's tightly controlled political system.

The scale of his victory suggests real democratic reforms are still a remote prospect, however.

The only international observation mission overseeing the election was a delegation from the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States, which frequently offers positive assessments of votes criticized by more established monitoring bodies.

CIS executive secretary Sergei Lebedev, speaking today in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat, said the election complied with democratic norms. He said CIS monitors noted some minor irregularities but said they were unlikely to have any impact on the final result.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe had said earlier that conditions were not suitable for a vote monitoring mission and Turkmenistan did not invite its observers.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in