Turkmenistan's election commission has announced the results of parliamentary elections that were held in the Central Asian nation on December 14th.
A statement released Sunday says that 123 members of the 125-seat parliament were elected in the first round of the polls, after receiving the required 50 percent of the vote.
The statement said one of the run-off votes will be held on December 28, and the other on February 8.
The Turkmen government hailed the vote as a step to democracy. But critics say the vote was a sham because a majority of the 288 candidates running for parliamentary seats were either members of the pro-presidential Democratic Party of Turkmenistan or state-controlled groups.
It was the country's first parliamentary poll since the government adopted a new constitution in September. The document broadens the powers of the president and parliament, including nearly doubling the number of parliamentary seats from 65 to 125.
Turkmenistan has been trying to emerge from its self-imposed isolation since the death of its former president-for-life (Saparmurat Niyazov) in 2006.
Current President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has vowed to pursue political reform and open the country to foreign investment.
But human rights groups say the Central Asian nation continues to be one of the worst violators of media and religious freedoms.
Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.
Turkmenistan Announces Results of Parliamentary Elections