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Sunday 23 July 2017

'Don't vote for us,' say Turkmen candidates

Shaun Walker

It is democracy, Turkmen style. There are eight candidates standing in tomorrow's presidential election.

But all seven men who are challenging the incumbent, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, have refused to ask the electorate to vote for them.

Instead, they have lauded the president; one of many signs that reform in one of the world's most authoritarian countries is mere wishful thinking.

Indeed, just about the only intrigue is whether Mr Berdymukhammedov will choose to win with an overwhelming majority, such as 99pc of the vote, to suggest invincibility, or with a more modest figure around 70 or 80pc, giving the veneer of a democratic contest.

Turkmenistan, bordering Iran and Afghanistan, has some of the world's largest reserves of natural gas.

Mr Berdymukhammedov, a former dentist, came to power when his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, died in 2006. (© Independent News Service)

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