Turkmenistan’s incumbent president wins fresh seven-year term

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Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov won the presidential elections with 98 percent of the vote in a weakly contested election, election officials revealed on Monday.

The former dentist and health minister beat out seven token opponents following a 97 percent turnout at the polls. Voting is mandatory in Turkmenistan.

Last year Berdymukhamedov signed off on constitutional changes that paved the way for his lifelong rule by removing age limits for presidential candidates.

Another constitutional amendment lengthened presidential terms from five to seven years cementing his hold on the secretive nation.

Berdymukhamedov was expected to win by a landslide in the elections. This was the first time presidential elections in Turkmenistan have witnessed participation from opposition candidates. The candidates were perceived as purely figureheads, without a real chance to win the presidency.

Officials handed voters books written by Berdymukhamedov and flowers after they cast their vote.

The president promised the citizens after his win that improvement of the welfare of the people will be his top agenda.

Although Turkmenistan sits on the world’s fourth largest natural gas reserves, it has failed to diversify the economy through export routes and its hydrocarbon-based reserves.

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