Feb 13, 2022 09:14 UTC
  • Turkmenistan to hold polls in March after leader says ready to relinquish power

Turkmenistan will hold snap elections next month after President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov announced he is ready to relinquish power to younger people.

“The president … gave us an instruction to prepare for early presidential elections on March 12,” Bezergen Garrayev, a Spokesman for the Election Commission, told AFP.

The country's parliament approved the presidential instructions and MPs adopted a resolution to hold the vote on March 12.

Berdymukhamedov, 64, who is chair of the cabinet and senate speaker, said he was ready to make room for "young leaders" at the helm, appearing to suggest that his son, Serdar, would succeed him.

In a speech in parliament on Friday, Berdymukhamedov, a former dentist and health minister, said he wished to remain in politics in the capacity of chairman of parliament's upper chamber.

Serdar, 41, is widely expected to succeed his father as Turkmenistan's new president. He has risen through a series of government posts and is now the deputy chairman of the Cabinet.

People in the capital, Ashgabat, were surprised by the news of the snap election.

"What is the rush?" asked Takhir Abdullayev, a pensioner. "The president is not yet an old man. Giving young people the road is one thing. But you need somebody with experience in that post."

Berdymukhamedov tallied more than 97% of the vote in the 2017 election. While eight candidates ran against him, all expressed support for his government after the vote.