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Turkmenistan's Presidential Candidates Pledge Fealty To Niyazov's Ideas --> Acting Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) January 1, 2007 -- All six candidates officially registered for Turkmenistan's upcoming presidential election pledged in statements published today to diligently follow the policies of the late President Saparmurat Niyazov.

Niyazov died December 21 after leading independent Turkmenistan since 1991.

Acting President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has promised the February 11 vote will conform to Niyazov's concept of democracy.

All the candidates, who include Berdymukhammedov, were chosen by the country's highest legislative body, the People's Council.

No opposition candidates have been registered.

The United States has called on Turkmenistan to conduct a "free, fair, and open election." The U.S. State Department said Washington wants Turkmenistan to have "the most representative government possible."

Meanwhile, a member of the Turkmen opposition, Nurberdy Nurmammedov, remains missing. He disappeared after leaving his home in Ashgabat on December 23.


Saparmurat Niyazov, 1940-2006

Turkment President Saparmurat Niyazov (

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RFE/RL's coverage of Turkmenistan.