ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan – Turkmenistan established a political dynasty on Tuesday, as authorities said the son of the Central Asian nation’s leader won the presidential election after a short period of control. extraordinary votes.
Serdar Berdymukhammedov, 40, was the favorite candidate in Saturday’s election to lead Turkmenistan, an isolated, gas-rich state and succeed his father, Gurbanguly.
The country has long been difficult for outsiders to enter – has not reported a single case of the coronavirus pandemic – and no elections in Turkmenistan, which became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, have been held. considered to be truly competitive.
The Central Election Commission said Serdar Berdymukhammedov won 72.97% of the vote. His closest opponent in a field of nine candidates was a university official, Khyrdyr Nunnayev, who won 11%.
There is an unexpected wait for results, after authorities said Sunday they needed more time to count votes. The chairman of the electoral commission, Gulmyrat Myradov, told reporters that votes were still being counted, including those from those living abroad, and preliminary results would likely be reported on Monday.
Turkmenistan usually publishes preliminary results the day after an election, such as when elder Berdymukhammedov was re-elected with more than 97% of the vote in 2017.
Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, 64, announced the vote last month, saying the country should be run by younger people. He has been the country’s leader since he was first appointed acting president after Saparmurat Niyazov’s death in December 2006.
Elder Berdymukhammedov has built a cult of personality with the title of Arkadag, or protector, and is eager to show off his fitness with stunts that include driving a sports car, shooting targets, and shooting targets. and lifted a golden barbell to receive applause from his cabinet. Under his rule, China has replaced Russia as the main buyer for Turkmenistan’s vast gas reserves.
Serdar Berdymukhammedov has progressed through a series of increasingly prominent government posts and most recently held the post of deputy prime minister of the country, answering directly to his father. He had just turned 40, the minimum age for the presidency in Turkmenistan.
“My main goal is to continue the glorious development path built during 30 years of independence and successfully implement programs to ensure a high level of social conditions for the people,” said Serdar Berdymukhammedov said while presenting his program in a televised speech.
The country is struggling to diversify its economy, which is too dependent on natural gas reserves.
Speaking to reporters after the vote, Mr. Berdymukhammedov vowed to continue the country’s neutral foreign policy if elected.
During the election campaign, all the candidates praised his father Berdymukhammedov, who said he would hold the post of head of the country’s upper house of parliament.
On voting day, folk dancers and singers performed as loud music blared from loudspeakers at polling stations. Covering the stations is the smoke from the burning of the harmala, a plant widely used in Turkmenistan to steam homes and public spaces to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.