Radio Free Europe

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Turkmenistan's Former President Making Moves Seen As Attempt To Become Paramount Leader.

Former Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov (file photo)

Former Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov (file photo)

ASHGABAT -- Turkmenistan's former president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, who handed his post to his son Serdar Berdymukhammedov last year and currently leads the upper chamber of the parliament, plans to reform the parliament structure , apparently aiming to become the paramount leader of the tightly controlled former Soviet republic.
State media in the energy-rich country reported Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, who heads the People's Council (Halk Maslahaty), announced at parliament's session on January 11 that the legislature will be turned back into a single-chamber organ. The People's Council will turn into a separate body and become "the highest power," supervising all branches of rule with the right to change the constitution, adopt constitutional laws, and determine domestic and foreign policies. In September 2020, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov turned the single-chamber parliament into a bicameral legislature by announcing the creation of a new upper house and proclaiming himself as its chairman even though the constitution did not allow presidents to lead such a body. Critics have said Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's moves were made to secure his lifetime leadership and the eventual succession of the presidency to his son, Serdar, and his grandchildren. "There is absolutely no doubt that all of this is being carried out because of the distorted ego of Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, for whom being the chairman of the parliament’s upper chamber is not enough and now he wants to turn himself into the leader of the nation who strictly controls all other branches of power, making them report to the People's Council,” Turkmen political observer and analyst Kumush Bairieva told RFE/RL. Government critics and human rights groups say Berdymukhammedov suppressed dissent during his presidency in 2006-2022 and no changes were made after Serdar Berdymukhammedov was sworn into office in March last year.

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