The death of Turkmenistan's autocratic president set in motion a series of power struggles, as exiled opposition leaders clamored to return and world powers competed for influence over the Central Asian country and its vast energy resources.
The acting president, Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, said on Friday that the chief legislative body would set a date for elections next Tuesday. But one-party rule does not appear threatened in the country, which has never known democracy.
With no obvious heir to President Saparmurat Niyazov, who died of heart failure on Thursday, commentators said would-be successors were maneuvering behind the scenes.
They also said Niyazov's sudden death could lead to a contest between Russia and the West over the former Soviet republic's enormous natural gas and petroleum reserves, with the Kremlin seeking to influence who would become president.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a condolence message that "strengthening our partnership is in the true interests of the peoples of Russia and Turkmenistan."
And US President George W. Bush said the US hopes "to expand our relations with Turkmenistan."
Analysts said powerful security officials stood behind Berdymukhamedov, a deputy prime minister who is likely only an interim leader.
His rise to power was swift and surprising. Under the Constitution, Parliament Speaker Ovezgeldy Atayev was next in line for the presidency. But shortly after Niyazov's death was announced, Atayev was charged with abuse of power and human rights violations.
Berdymukhamedov signed an order dismissing Atayev for "committing a deed incompatible with the high position entrusted him."
Turkmenistan's prosecutor general accused Atayev in a statement of harassing and humiliating his own daughter-in-law and driving her to attempt suicide.
Berdymukhamedov said the People's Council, a 2,000-member legislature chosen by Niyazov, will meet on Tuesday to pick the candidates and set a date for presidential elections. But a decree the acting president signed suggested any elections may not be competitive.
"National presidential elections will be held on a democratic basis that has been laid by the great leader," the decree said, referring to Niyazov.
Khudaiberdy Orazov, Turkmenistan's former central bank chief living in exile in Sweden, told reporters that he and two other opposition leaders planned to return home to compete in the presidential election.
Another expatriate, former Foreign Minister Avdy Kuliyev, told Russia's RIA-Novosti news agency that he planned to return from Norway.
"We must hurry to Turkmenistan because time is on the side of the Niyazovite group," he said.
POINT-BLANK RANGE: Reporters and camera people from several outlets say police officers in Minneapolis had fired tear gas and rubber bullets directly at them Multiple journalists on the ground in Minnesota said they were teargassed and subject to other attacks by police on Saturday evening, a day after the widely condemned arrest of a CNN reporter live on air. Los Angeles Times journalist Molly Hennessy-Fiske, who was reporting outside the Fifth Precinct in Minneapolis, said she was with a group of about a dozen journalists when the Minnesota State Patrol “fired tear gas canisters on us at point blank range.” “I was saying: ‘Where do we go?’ They did not tell us where to go. They didn’t direct us. They just fired on us,” she said
For nearly a decade, the UN Security Council has been frequently paralyzed by Russia’s obstinacy over the Syrian crisis. Today, however, it is the US-China rivalry that has infected a growing array of issues, according to officials and diplomats. As recently as 2017, an understanding between Washington and Beijing allowed the UN on three occasions — involving separate sets of economic sanctions — to project international unity in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat. Three years later, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a ferocious competition erupt between the UN’s two main contributors, prompting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on May
HISTORIC FLIGHT: The astronauts named their capsule ‘Endeavour,’ after the space shuttle on which they both flew, while Elon Musk said he was overcome with emotion Two veteran NASA astronauts headed for the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday after Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Saturday became the first commercial company to launch a rocket carrying humans into orbit, ushering in a new era in space travel. SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard blasted off flawlessly in a cloud of bright orange flames and smoke from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a 19-hour voyage to the space station. “Let’s light this candle,” Hurley, the mission commander, told SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, before liftoff at 3:22pm from NASA’s
INDIA Pride to be preserved The nation would not let its “pride be hurt” in its latest border flare-ups with China, but is determined to settle the dispute through talks, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh said in a television interview late on Saturday. “Situations arise with China. It has happened before,” Singh said, adding that the government was striving to make sure “tension does not escalate.” The government has turned down US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate, he said. IRAN Speaker says talks futile Newly elected Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf yesterday said that any negotiations with the US would be “futile.” The nation’s