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Turkmenistan to hold snap March vote after leader drops succession hint

ASHGABAT, TURKMENISTAN (AFP) – Turkmenistan yesterday announced a snap presidential election for March 12 after autocrat leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said he was ready to step down, with his son expected to succeed him.

A former dentist and health minister, the 64-year-old succeeded the country’s founding president Saparmurat Niyazov in December 2006 after his death and has ruled with an iron
fist since.

“The president… gave us an instruction to prepare for early presidential elections on March 12,” spokesman for the election commission Bezergen Garrayev told AFP by telephone.

Gas-rich Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic, is one of the world’s most repressive, secretive states and little is known about how the regime makes day-to-day decisions.