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Turkmenistan's Niyazov Says He Will Retire in 2009

20 April 2005 -- Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov today told the visiting chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Dimitrij Rupel, that he will not run in Turkmenistan's 2009 presidential elections.

Speaking to reporters after talks with Niyazov in Ashgabat, Rupel said Niyazov assured him that several candidates will run in the 2009 Turkmen presidential vote, and that Niyazov will not be one of them.

Niyazov has said before that no head of state should be more than 70 years old. Niyazov recently had his 65th birthday.

Ayhan Evrensel, press officer of the OSCE, told RFE/RL from Ashgabat that Rupel discussed achievements but also shortcomings.

"Minister Rupel said [that] one cannot overlook the achievements of Turkmenistan in the past years, especially the development, the growth, the progress, the country (has) reached. But he also said, there were some questions regarding NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in the country and he (asked) questions on this. They had an intensive exchange of views on this issue," Evrensel said.

Rupel was in Tajikistan yesterday, where he urged the Tajik government to decriminalize libel and defamation and to do more to fight corruption.

On Monday, Rupel was in Kyrgyzstan, where he urged Kyrgyz leaders to hold democratic presidential elections.


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