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Turkmen President To Head Legislative Body

Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) March 30, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Turkmenistan's new president has been elected as head of the country's highest legislative body, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reported.

Reports say some 2,500 members of the Halk Maslahaty, or People's Council, voted unanimously in favor of appointing President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov as their chairman.

Berdymukhammedov was the only candidate.

An honorary elder of Turkmenistan, Muratberdy Sopiev, said today in nominating the president that "Berdymukhammedov was able in the short period of his leadership to show his ability to realize into practice his promises given to the people. He is able to listen to people's proposals, study them and make decisions on [such proposals]."

Berdymukhammedov succeeded President Saparmurat Niyazov after the death of the autocratic leader in December.

Lawmakers at today's final session in the southeastern city of Mary also debated and approved a draft law that would reform Turkmenistan's agricultural sector.

The legislation aims to create farmers' unions and a short-term agriculture credit system to foster the development of private farming.

The Halk Maslahaty is scheduled to meet next in Turkmenabat in Lebap Province in December 2008.

(with material from AP)

Saparmurat Niyazov, 1940-2006

Saparmurat Niyazov, 1940-2006

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