Turkmen Leader Gets Help From Challengers
|Publisher||Institute for War and Peace Reporting|
|Publication Date||24 January 2012|
|Cite as||Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Turkmen Leader Gets Help From Challengers, 24 January 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f2284a72.html [accessed 25 December 2014]|
As Turkmenistan's president Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov prepares to run for re-election on February 12, the candidates selected to stand against him are falling over themselves to assure him of their support.
As state-controlled newspapers carry reports suggesting that campaigning is lively, with voters keen to engage with the candidates, local observers say none of those standing against Berdymuhammedov represents a real alternative, as all are state officials handpicked to take part.
"There's no confrontation of any kind going on. It's all about ingratiating themselves with the front-runner," a media-watcher from Turkmenabat in the east of the country said. "It's comical to watch them earnestly trying to lend their support to their rival Berdymuhammedov."
A legal expert in the capital Ashgabat said the campaign programmes of the various candidates were identical to each other – praising the achievements of Berdymuhammedov's five years in power, such as a major gas pipeline supplying the Chinese market.
One of the contenders, Rejep Bazarov, who is deputy governor of Dashoguz region, gave a speech about how the "wise leadership of esteemed president Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov" had ensured that the slogan "The State is for People" was put into practice.
Kakageldy Abdullaev said Turkmenistan's foreign and domestic policies enjoyed broad international support, while Esendurdy Gaipov described how the government was supporting the farming sector.
Although the candidates represent a range of government institutions and industries, there is very little to distinguish one from another.
"Under normal circumstances, candidates would conclude their programmes with promises of what they would do if they were elected," a Turkmen student studying abroad said. "It's remarkable how these candidates are afraid to establish their own identities and instead direct all their remarks in favour of the undoubted victor."