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Turkmenistan's Ruler Wins New Term

February 13, 2012

VOA News

Turkmenistan's authoritarian President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has cemented his rule in the Central Asian state, winning a new five-year term with more than 97 percent of the vote.

The 54-year-old incumbent also serves as prime minister, commander of the armed forces and head of the only political party in the former Soviet republic. He swept to victory over seven token challengers, all of whom praised Mr. Berdymukhamedov's leadership during their campaigns.

Announcing vote results on Monday, the Central Elections Commission in Ashqabat said the vote on Sunday was free and fair, illustrating Turkmenistan's national unity. No observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe were present for the election.

Turkmen authorities nearly 97 percent of the country's 2.9 million registered voters cast ballots.

Energy-rich Turkmenistan, a country of 5 million people, is bordered by the Caspian Sea, Iran and Afghanistan. Russia, China and a host of Western governments are vying for a share of its vast natural gas reserves, said to be the fourth largest in the world.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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