Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov bagged a fresh seven-year term with nearly 98 percent of a weakly contested vote, electoral officials announced Monday following a preliminary count. The election commission claimed at a press conference in the capital Ashgabat a massive turnout for the Sunday poll in which eight other candidates, viewed as token opponents for Berdymukhamedov, also competed. The former dentist and health minister took power in 2006 after the death of Turkmenistan’s first president, Saparmurat Niyazov. Casting his vote at a school in Ashgabat on Sunday, the president said the vote would decide “the fate of the people for the coming seven years”.
“If I am elected then our policies aimed at improving the welfare of the people will continue,” Berdymukhamedov said.
Last year Berdymukhamedov signed off on constitutional changes that paved the way for his lifelong rule by removing upper age limits for presidential candidates.
Another change lengthened presidential terms from five to seven years.