Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov elected Turkmen president for third time

Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov elected Turkmen president for third time

Turkmenistan's reigning president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov won a new seven-year term with nearly 98% of a weakly contested vote, electoral officials said Monday, following a preliminary count.

The election commission claimed at a press conference in the capital Ashgabat a turnout of 97.27% for the poll, in which eight men viewed as token opponents for Berdymukhamedov also competed.

Berdymukhamedov took power in 2007 after the death of Turkmenistan's first president, Saparmurat Niyazov.

Casting his vote at a school in Ashgabat, the president said the election would decide "the fate of the people for the coming seven years".

"If I am elected then our policies aimed at improving the welfare of the people will continue," Berdymukhamedov said.

He noted that the country is "on the path to become an industrial power". Berdymukhamedov stressed that it is important to "not only benefit economic interests but also create more and better jobs for the people".

Last year Berdymukhamedov signed off on constitutional changes that paved the way for his lifelong rule by removing upper age limits for presidential candidates. Another change lengthened presidential terms from five to seven years.

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