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EU Deputy Says Turkmenistan's Election Not Real

Acting Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov is the frontrunner (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) February 7, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The Dutch chairman of the European Union's Interparliamentary Delegation to Turkmenistan says the country's presidential poll on February 11 is not a "real" election.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, Albert Jan Maat, who is also a European Parliament deputy, argued that the presidential poll might not be a reason for optimism.

"These elections, only with candidates from the former government -- you can't call them real elections, and that is not a [good] start for a more open society," he said.

Maat said he favored a delay for the vote so that the opposition can file candidates and the international community can send observers. There are six candidates in the election, but all are former government officials.

The election is widely expected to fall short of Western democratic standards.

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

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