The decree, carried by official newspapers, also said that the People's Council will consider "candidates nominated for the president's post".

President Saparmurat Niyazov, 66, died from heart failure on Thursday after 21 years at the helm of the gas-rich Central Asian nation. Niyazov held absolute power and created an elaborate cult around himself since the nation of 5 million became independent with the 1991 Soviet collapse.

The People's Council is made up of about 2,000 officials and elders that were hand-picked by Niyazov. Niyazov used the council to endorse his most important decisions.

Turkmenistan last held presidential elections in 1992 which Niyazov won with 95.5 percent of the vote. In 1999 he was named president for life, but in recent years he pledged to step down and hold elections by 2010.