ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Turkmenistan citizens voted Saturday in an election that could mark the beginning of a political dynasty for the gas-loaded Central Asian nation’s sitting president.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, 64, declared the vote final month, placing phase for his 40-yr aged son Serdar to take around. Preliminary success are anticipated Sunday, but few question that the president’s son will acquire by landslide.

Serdar Berdymukhamedov has risen by a collection of increasingly well known governing administration posts and most a short while ago has served as the country’s deputy prime minister, answering straight to his father.

He is experiencing what appears to be token competitiveness from eight other nominal contenders in Saturday’s vote, which include a deputy regional governor and a lawmaker.

“My main aim is to keep on on the superb path of enhancement developed through 30 yrs of independence and to efficiently employ programs aimed to assure a large degree of social conditions for the men and women,” Serdar Berdymukhamedov claimed even though presenting his system in televised speech.

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Speaking to reporters just after casting his ballot, he vowed to go on the country’s neutral international policy if elected.

No election in write-up-Soviet Turkmenistan has been thought of genuinely competitive. Even though 8 candidates ran in opposition to Berdymukhamedov in the very last election in 2017, all expressed help for his federal government and Berdymukhamedov garnered extra than 97% of the vote.

Berdymukhamedov arrived to power in 2006 following the loss of life of the eccentric Saparmurat Niyazov and set up a pervasive identity cult equivalent to that of his predecessor. Less than his rule, the region has remained complicated for outsiders to enter. Turkmenistan has not described any cases of an infection in the coronavirus pandemic.

It also has struggled to diversify its overall economy, which is overwhelmingly dependent on its vast organic fuel reserves. China has changed Russia as the top rated export destination for Turkmen gas, whilst Russian demand from customers is predicted to shrink further more amid tensions with the West above Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Berdymukhamedov has cultivated an image of strong wellbeing with media stunts that provided firing a pistol at a gentleman-sized concentrate on while riding a bicycle and hoisting a gold weightlifting bar, to the applause of his Cupboard. He is titled Arkadag, or Protector.

On a stop by to a polling station with his wheelchair-sure, 85 calendar year-old mom, the Turkmen president hailed the vote as “historic.”

When Berdymukhamedov announced the vote final thirty day period, he claimed that the country should really be operate by young people. His son has a short while ago turned 40, the minimal age for president in accordance to the Turkmen legislation.

In the course of the marketing campaign, all candidates praised Berdymukhamedov, who mentioned he will retain the article of the head of the country’s upper residence of parliament.

Turnout was major, with in excess of 90% of voters casting their ballots hours before polls shut.

Folks dancers and singers carried out as loud new music blared from loudspeakers at polling stations. Engulfing the stations the place fumes from burning harmala, a plant widely utilised in Turkmenistan to fumigate homes and public areas to support reduce the distribute of infectious illnesses.

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By Ellish