The son of Turkmenistan’s leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has been nominated to run for president next month, state media said yesterday, after the autocrat said he would step down and authorities called a snap vote.
“At the extraordinary congress of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan held in Ashgabat, the deputy chairman of the cabinet of ministers of the country, Serdar Berdymukhamedov, was nominated as a presidential candidate,” the state television announcer said. The Central Asian country has never held a competitive vote, and the younger Berdymukhamedov will almost certainly face no real opponents in the snap March 12 vote. Berdymukhamedov senior, the current president, chair of the cabinet and senate chief, has been the regime’s decision-maker for the last 15 years. In a historic speech in parliament on Friday, 64-year-old Berdymukhamedov said he had reached “a difficult decision” about his leadership because of his age. The country needed “young leaders”, he added. The expected father-to-son leadership transition would be the first of its kind in ex-Soviet Central Asia, a largely unfree, corruption-prone region that also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.