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President Vows To Make Turkmenistan 'Industrial Power'

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov is expected to face little challenge being reelected.
Incumbent Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov kicked off his reelection campaign by vowing to turn Turkmenistan "into an industrial power."

With a presidential election scheduled for February 12, Berdymukhammedov said on national television on January 9 new factories would be built to help the country move from an agricultural-based economy.

On agriculture, Berdymukhammedov said the emphasis would shift from herding to farming. Turkmenistan is nearly 90 percent desert.

Berdymukhammedov also spoke of the need for new political parties that would "inspire people to conscientiously work for the sake of further enlightenment of our homeland."

He also mentioned "organizing independent media outlets," but did not elaborate. All media in Turkmenistan are state-owned.

Berdymukhammedov also made an unusual promise, saying he wished to build a skiing area in the Kopetdag hills, near Ashgabat, with equipment to make artificial snow and "possibly" an outdoor ice-skating rink.

Temperatures can fall to below freezing in the winter but Turkmenistan is better known for its hot climate, with temperatures reaching into the 50s Celsius in summer.

compiled from agency reports