Turkmenistan's Berdymukhamedov Begins Second Term

RIA Novosti

12:49 17/02/2012 MOSCOW, February 17 (RIA Novosti) - Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov was sworn in for a second term as the president of Turkmenistan on Friday following his election last week.

The inauguration took place at the Congress Palace in the capital Ashgabat.

Taking his oath on a copy of the Turkmen constitution, Berdymukhamedov promised to “protect the rights and freedoms of the Turkmen people,” media reported.

Berdymukhamedov swept the February 12 elections with 97 percent of the vote. Seven other candidates had praised him in the run-up to the vote.

The 54-year-old trained dentist also holds the posts of prime minister, commander of the armed forces and chair of the desert nation’s only political party.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe did not send an observer mission to the polls after criticizing the lack of democratic reform in the energy-rich former Soviet republic.

Reporters Without Borders ranked the Muslim-majority country of 5.5 million people 176 out of 178 countries in its 2010 press freedom index.

Berdymukhamedov promised political reform when he won the last election in 2007, with 89 percent of the vote, following the sudden death of his predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov.

Niyazov styled himself Turkmenbashi, or Father of the Turkmen, and made himself the center of a personality cult.

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