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Turkmen Leader Promotes Son In Latest Signal Of Possible Succession

Serdar Berdymukhammedov (file photo)
Serdar Berdymukhammedov (file photo)

Turkmen state media say that President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has promoted his son Serdar to a top government post with oversight of major economic and financial decisions.

It is the latest in a series of promotions for the 39-year-old Serdar, who Berdymukhammedov appears to be grooming to succeed him in the future.

Turkmen state media reported on July 9 that Serdar was appointed deputy prime minister for economic and banking issues and for international financial organizations. Berdymukhamedov also removed Serdar from his previous position as chairman of the Supreme Control Chamber and as a member of the State Security Council.

No explanation for the shuffle or the promotion was given.

After his appointment in February to the Supreme Control Chamber and the State Security Council, Serdar’s public profile increased significantly.

He was seen leading government delegations on foreign trips, and his visits to the Central Asian’s various regions began to resemble those of his father.

In April, Serdar oversaw festivities surrounding a major national holiday celebrating the Turkmen horse and dog breeds. The Akhal-Teke horse and Alabai sheep dog play a prominent role in state propaganda, with monuments in the capital, Ashgabat, devoted to them and vast sums spent on promoting their breeding.

In the past, Berdymukhammedov led events surrounding the holiday, participating in races, showing off his horseback-riding skills, and handing out awards to breeders.

The July 9 announcement also included the demotion, firing, or reprimand of other top government officials, including two top officials at the country’s Central Bank.

The shuffle in personnel comes amid worsening economic conditions in the country, which has been plagued by high unemployment, problems with subsidized food, and an outmigration of laborers seeking work in other countries.

The national currency, the manat, slid to record lows in April.

The tightly controlled economy has been struggling for years, with government revenues depleted partly due to unsuccessful energy deals and low global prices for natural gas.

The country has some of the world’s largest proven reserves of gas.

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