Central & South Asia
Turkmenistan to 'elect' new leader
Country's highest legislative body will consider "candidates for president's post".
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2006 13:24 GMT

Niyazov, 66, died from heart failure after 21 years at the helm of the gas-rich Central Asian nation

Turkmenistan's acting president has said that the date for elections to replace the former Soviet republic's dead ruler will be set on Tuesday.
In a decree issued on Friday, Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, the acting president, promised democratic elections.
The date of the elections will be set by the People's Council, the country's highest legislative body, at a session scheduled for December 26, Berdymukhamedov said.

"National presidential elections will be held on a democratic basis that has been laid by the great leader," he said.

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.

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