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Turkmen President Dismisses Influential Security Chief

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov (file photo) (AFP) May 16, 2007 -- Turkmenistan's president has dismissed the country's influential security chief.

Turkmen state television reported May 15 that Akmurad Rejepov, the head of the presidential security service, was dismissed by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's decree "in connection with his transfer to another job."

Rejepov's replacement was not announced.

Rejepov served as security chief to late President Saparmurat Niyazov for much of his 21-year rule, and was seen as one of Niyazov's most loyal and influential men.

Niyazov, who died in December 2006, ruled the natural gas-rich Central Asian nation of 5 million with iron control and instituted a cult of personality.

Berdymukhammedov emerged as an interim leader following Niyazov's death and assumed full office after a landslide victory in February elections that were not monitored by Western observers.

Berdymukhammedov has canceled some of Niyazov's least popular policies and has promised more openness.

(AP, Reuters)

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