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Turkmen President Berdymukhammedov Nominated For New Term

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov

Turkmenistan's dominant party has nominated incumbent President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov as its candidate in the tightly controlled Central Asian nation's February 12 presidential election.

The December 14 nomination by the Democratic Party strongly signals that Berdymukhammedov, as expected, will be elected to a new term as president in the isolated, natural-gas-rich former Soviet republic.

Berdymukhammedov, 59, has been running the nation of 5.3 million since the death of autocrat Saparmurat Niyazov in December 2006.

His current term is five years, but a new constitution adopted in September extended future presidential terms to seven years and scrapped a rule barring anyone over 70 from being elected president.

Berdymukhammedov has reversed several of Niyazov's more eccentric policies and allowed for multiple candidates in presidential votes, but tolerates little dissent.

No election in post-Soviet Turkmenistan has been recognized as free and fair by international organizations.

Candidates from the Agrarian Party and the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs are to be announced later in December, but their participation will be widely seen as an effort to put a veneer of democracy on the vote.

Based on reporting by and Interfax