Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, the authoritarian president of gas-rich Turkmenistan, has secured a third term in office by winning 97.69 percent of the vote in the February 12 election, according to the Central Election Commission. The election commission announced the result on February 13, a day after an election whose outcome seemed certain in advance because of Berdymukhammedov’s domination of the Central Asian country and the tightly controlled campaign. The commission put the turnout at more than 97 percent of eligible voters. But RFE/RL correspondents saw only a trickle of voters at several polling stations in the capital, Ashgabat. The election hands Berdymukhammedov, 59, a new seven-year term. He maintains strict control over all aspects of society and was all but guaranteed to defeat the other eight candidates, who were widely seen as window dressing for the vote.
RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service reported that, two days before the actual vote, students at a school in Ashgabat were tasked with filling in ballots in favor of the country’s president. “These ballots are to be put in ballot boxes for the people who will not show up,” a source at the school located on the capital’s Kemine Street told RFE/RL.
… Observers say the presence of unknown candidates and state-created parties in this election was unlikely to make a difference in a country where all media outlets are controlled by the state.
“Every election in the past 25 years has been rigged and there is no real opposition in the country — the society is oppressed and independent media is practically nonexistent,” says Michal Romanowski, an expert on Eurasia at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
Full Article: Turkmen President Extends Rule In Tightly Controlled Vote.