Sun, May 25, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Turkmen parliament seeks to extend the presidential term

AFP , ASHGABAT, TURKMENISTAN

The Turkmen parliament on Friday called for the presidential term to be extended from five to seven years as part of a package of constitutional reforms.

Parliament speaker Akdja Nurberdyeva said numerous citizens and lawmakers had appealed for a lengthening of the presidential term “to enable the head of state to carry out long-term policies.”

Nurberdyeva voiced her proposal at a meeting to discuss constitutional changes headed by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

The 50-year-old Turkmen leader last year succeeded eccentric autocrat Saparmurat Niyazov, known for the gold statues of himself he placed around the mainly desert gas-rich country.

So far, however, there has been little loosening of presidential control.

International human rights groups, banned in the country, say numerous opposition activists remain in jail, while there is only one legal political party.

But on Friday Berdymukhamedov said he wanted parliament to take on lawmaking powers that are in the hands of a rubber-stamp consultative body called the Khalk Maslakhaty, or People’s Council.

Both institutions have so far been completely subservient to the president.

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