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Turkmen One-Party Rule May End Soon

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov
ASHGABAT -- Authorities in Turkmenistan have pledged that two new political parties will be established "soon" -- a move aimed at bringing an end to the country’s current one-party system.

Deputy Prime Minister Sapardurdy Toyliyev said preparations are under way to launch an agrarian party and a pro-business party.

If implemented, the plan could end the one-party rule of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan.

However, analysts say the state's involvement in the formation of the parties would raise significant questions about their autonomy.

Turkmenistan has been known for its iron-fist rulers since the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, including "president for life" Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in 2006.

Niyazov's successor, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, has continued his authoritarian internal policies.

Turkmenistan's next parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2013.

With reporting by TDH AND AP