NOV. 23 (The Conway Bulletin) — The son of Turkmen president Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Serdar Berdymukhamedov, has won a seat in the country’s parliament, local television reported, a possible first step towards inheriting the presidency from his father.
Turkmen TV broadcast Serdar Berdymukhamedov being congratulated after winning a by-election three days earlier. He had previously worked in a senior management position in the foreign ministry.
Little is known about Serdar Berdymukhamedov. Eurasianet ran a story earlier this year which said that as well as holding down government jobs he also owns a “a cotton-spinning plant, a mineral water factory and a chain of hotels”.
Earlier this year, Mr Berdymukhamedov tweaked the country’s constitution so that he could remain in power for life. He also extended the length of presidential terms to seven years from five years.
Succession has become an enduring issue in Central Asia. In September, Islam Karimov, who had ruled Uzbekistan for 25 years died. His daughter had been his preferred successor but was sidelined two years ago, paving the way for PM Shavkat Mirziyoyev to take over. In Kazakhstan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev dodged the issue of a family succession during an interview with Bloomberg this week.
Mr Berdymukhamedov took over in 2007 as Turkmenistan’s president from Saparmurat Niyazov. The only country in the region which has successfully completed a power handover within a family is in Azerbaijan, where Ilham Aliyev became president in 2003 after his father Heydar.
>>This story was first published in issue 306 of The Conway Bulletin, a weekly 12-page newspaper covering Central Asia and the South Caucasus