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Turkmenistan Holds Presidential Election


Residents look at a presidential election poster depicting the candidates in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, February 7, 2012.

Residents look at a presidential election poster depicting the candidates in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, February 7, 2012.

Voters cast ballots Sunday in Turkmenistan, where President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov is expected to be re-elected.

Russian state television showed voters lining up in the Central Asian nation to cast their vote for president.

There are seven candidates running against incumbent Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, who is widely expected to win. Candidates include government ministers and the director of a state-run textile factory.

Berdymukhamedov, 54, is also the country’s prime minister, leader of the military, and head of the country’s only political party.

The trained dentist won the last presidential election in 2007 with 89 percent of the vote. He replaced the country’s first post-Soviet President Saparmurat Niyazov, who died of a heart attack. After taking the helm, Berdymukhamedov began to dismantle what many people called a cult of personality surrounding his predecessor.

The authoritarian nation that borders Iran and Afghanistan holds three percent of the world’s gas supplies. Advocacy groups repeatedly rank the country as one of the worst for human rights.

About three-million people are registered to vote in the country. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) did not send vote monitors to the region due to limited freedoms and lack of political competition.

Five days before registration of presidential candidates ended, a law allowing opposition candidates to register came into force. Analysts say the law will not affect the dominance of the president’s party.

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