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Turkmenista parliament to discuss constitutional amendments

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Turkmenista parliament to discuss constitutional amendments

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Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Turkmenistan will today convene a parliamentary session to discuss potential constitutional amendments in a bid to consolidate power around President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and his eventual successor.

This comes with the aim of transforming the parliament into a bicameral chamber and turn the People’s Council into a senate. The amendments include a provision mandating that the president of the senate take over as head of state should the president become incapacitated or pass away.

At the same time, Turkmenistan’s economy is hamstring; with an isolated economy that remains dependent on fossil fuels, the country has been struggling for several years. Turkmenistan has abundant natural gas reserves—estimated at 17.5 trillion cubic meters—or 9.4% of global reserves. As such, the decline in exports and global oil devaluation have put Ashgabat in a tenuous financial position.

With its immense reserves, Turkmenistan will want to establish itself as an indispensable partner in the region; for now, it relies on Russia, China and Iran for its exports. The former Soviet republic is arousing growing interest, but current policies have precluded a diversification of its partners. With no organised opposition and little prospect of political change, the status quo is set to be maintained in Turkmenistan.

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