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Central & South Asia
Turkmenistan moves to reduce cult
The country's new president turns his back on predecessor's personality cult.
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2007 16:39 GMT
Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, Turkmenistan's president, has promised refrom [AFP]

Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, Turkmenistan's new president has begun taking steps to reduce the personality cult of his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in December.
 
On Friday the Central Asian country's newly elected leader, abolished the state-funded dance and music concerts held to honour him as he travelled the country.
Berdymukhamedov said the money spent on the shows should be used to fund youth festivals and competitions instead.
 
"None of us can be the kind of person our great leader was, he was a great man with a great soul," Berdymukhamedov told a cabinet meeting that was broadcast on national television.
"When going anywhere, children sing in front of the president, dancers perform. Let's get rid of that. There are festivals for that kind of thing."
 
The decision to reduce the state-sponsored adulation of the president follows other reforms intended to modernise the secretive, resource-rich, former-Soviet country.
 
Oath of loyalty scrapped
 
Also on Saturday, state television said that students and state employees in Turkmenistan will no longer be required to recite the country's oath of loyalty to the president.
 
The oath, promising that "my breath would stop" in case of treason, was also read out several times a day on state television and radio during Niyazov's two-decades' reign.
 
Recital was obligatory under the late dictator Saparmurat Niyazov for children from pre-school up, turning the "sacred oath into some kind of song".
 
Any staff meeting of state employees, including doctors, began with the oath.
 
Murat Karriyev, the head of the central electoral commission, said that recitals of the oath would now be limited to the start of the school year on September 1 and on graduation.
 
The oath would also be obligatory for new members of the armed forces and at major state occasions.
 
Since being elected Berdymukhamedov also allowed the opening of two internet cafes in Ashgabat, the country's capital, which were banned under Niyavoz.
Source:
Agencies
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