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There has been speculation that Serdar Berdymukhammedov (pictured) is being groomed to succeed his father, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. (file photo)

ASHGABAT -- Turkmenistan’s authoritarian President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has appointed his son as governor of the south-central region of Ahal, state media report.

News of the appointment came on June 17 amid speculation that Serdar Berdymukhammedov, 37, was being groomed to succeed his father at the helm of the tightly controlled Central Asian nation.

President Berdymukhammedov, 61, has ruled Turkmenistan since his autocratic predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, died in December 2006.

Government critics and human rights groups say he has suppressed dissent and made few changes in the restrictive country since he came to power.

In January, President Berdymukhammedov named his only son as deputy governor of the Ahal region, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, a year after he was appointed as deputy foreign minister.

He previously worked at the Foreign Ministry and served as a member of the gas-rich former Soviet republic's rubber-stamp parliament.

Before he became a lawmaker, Serdar Berdymukhammedov was chief of the Foreign Ministry's information department.

President Berdymukhammedov also has three daughters.

Ousted Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi gestures in a cage during a court hearing in Cairo in 2015.

Egypt's ousted President Muhammad Morsi has died after fainting in a courtroom in Cairo, officials say.

Egypt's public prosecutor said that Morsi collapsed in a court cage after addressing the tribunal on June 17.

Morsi was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, a statement said, adding that a medical report showed no apparent recent injuries on his body.

State television reported that the court hearing was related to charges of espionage emanating from suspected contacts with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Morsi, 67, was a former top figure in the now-banned Islamist movement Muslim Brotherhood.

He was ousted by the Egyptian military in 2013 following mass protests a year after he took office as the country's first democratically elected leader.

He had remained in custody since then, while the Egyptian authorities launched a crackdown on his supporters.

Human Rights Watch said Morsi’s death was tragic but "predictable" given the authorities' "failure" to allow medical care.

The Muslim Brotherhood accused Egyptian authorities of being responsible for Morsi's "deliberate slow death."

The authorities "put him in solitary confinement... they withheld medication and gave him disgusting food... they did not give him the most basic human rights," a statement said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had forged close ties with Morsi, called him a "martyr" and blamed Egypt's "tyrants" for his death.

Based on reporting by the BBC, dpa, AFP, AP and Reuters

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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