Few Changes in New Turkmen Cabinet
|Publisher||Institute for War and Peace Reporting|
|Publication Date||17 March 2012|
|Cite as||Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Few Changes in New Turkmen Cabinet, 17 March 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f68519e2.html [accessed 19 April 2015]|
Turkmenistan's president Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov has finished rearranging his government following his election to a second term in February. But local commentators are not expecting much change from the new team, whose members will have been picked more for their loyalty than their ability.
Berdymuhammedov was sworn in on February 17 after election officials said he won 97 per cent of the vote. He defeated seven other candidates, who were handpicked to "oppose" him but who praised his leadership during their own campaigns.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe did not send monitors as it said the election did not meet democratic standards.
On appointing his senior team, Berdymuhammedov told officials to ensure their underlings worked efficiently, and urged them to adopt modern methods.
"Today this work [of governance] should be built on the basis of new principles and approaches in response to the spirit and philosophy of the modern epoch," he said, according to local media.
Of the 60 most senior officials – ministers and their deputies and the heads of major state concerns, 44 have been in post for several years, among them Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, an old hand who has filled senior positions since 2003.
Twelve new officials have been appointed to positions in the Cabinet of Ministers, and Annageldi Yazmyradov, formerly minister for water resources and one of the candidates who ran against Berdymuhammedov, has been made a deputy prime minister, together with Rozymyrat Seyitkuliev.
Analysts in Turkmenistan say that even when government officials hold qualifications relevant to their post, they often many lacked the managerial skills or independence needed to institute reforms.
The new cabinet just looks like more of the same.
"There's nothing new about the structure of this government, which should be gradually pushing the country forward," a political observer based in the capital Ashgabat said. "If Berdymuhammedov is really going to fulfil his election promises to create political pluralism, adopt new approaches and involve new minds in the economy and other areas, he should have dismissed all doubts and launched a reform of public administration."
A former senior official in Ashgabat also expressed pessimism, saying there was little will among the political elite to break with the tradition of hierarchical, centralised government.
"As before, all matters, including local ones, will be resolved at the highest level or by minions of the president," he predicted.
Government appointments in Turkmenistan are often based on political allegiance, loyalty and kinship rather than professional ability.
Members of today's elite were generally educated at Turkmen universities that have not updated their curricula for 20 years, and where levels of corruption are high.
Turkmenistan has a history of inefficient rule. In 2009 it came close to the bottom of the World Bank's ranking for effective government and competence of public servants, beating only North Korea, Burma and Eritrea.
This article was produced as part of IWPR's News Briefing Central Asia output, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.