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Parliamentary elections in Turkmenistan begin

December 15, 2013, 9:14 UTC+3 ASHGABAT
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ASHGABAT, December 15, (ITAR-TASS). All 2,446 polling stations at the elections of deputies in the Turkmen parliament (Mejilis) opened at 07:00 local time (06:00 Moscow time) on Sunday in the Republic of Turkmenistan, Central Asia.

As many as 283 candidates are running for 125 seats in the republican parliament, the Turkmen Central Elections Commission reported. The parliamentary elections will be held until 19:00 local time (18:00 Moscow time) on Sunday. As many as 33 polling stations are set up for Turkmen citizens staying abroad at the Turkmen diplomatic missions in 26 countries. Several polling stations will be opened in several Russian cities, such as Moscow, Astrakhan, St. Petersburg and Kazan.

The Turkmen polling stations are decorated with the national flags and the fairy lights in the shape of the balloons of different colours. Professional and amateur entertainers will perform on the squares at the polling stations, different sweets and beverages will be offered. The gifts - the books of the republican president - are prepared for young and elderly voters.

For the first time in the 22-year history of Turkmenistan’s independence two parties will run in the elections. The Democratic Party, which is founded in 1991 and had been headed by the country’s president before August 2013, the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, which was formed in 2012, will vie for deputy seats. The latter party is not the oppositional one and supports fully the presidential policy. “The election programme goals of the Democratic Party and the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan are identical. Both parties intend to boost socio-economic development in the country and build up the foundations of independence and democracy,” the official announcement of the republican parliamentary elections reads. Therefore, foreign experts noted that the political rivalry for the votes is not expected.

The Turkmen parliamentary elections are also specific, as a mission of observers from the OSCE Bureau for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) had arrived in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital, to monitor the elections. The ODIHR mission consists of 15 observers from 14 member-countries of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE has previously sent only the groups of experts for the Turkmen presidential elections in 2007 and 2012, the parliamentary elections in 2008 and the elections in the local authorities of the republic in 2010. A delegation of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will also monitor the republican parliamentary elections on Sunday, December 15.

A CIS observer mission will monitor the parliamentary elections. It will consist of 67 representatives of member-countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the CIS Executive Committee. A Russia delegation is led by Kazbek Taisayev, the deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee for Economic Policy, Innovation Development and Entrepreneurship. More than 2,500 Turkmen observers are traditionally monitoring the elections.

According to the Turkmen legislation, a candidate for a seat in the Mejilis is considered elected, as the latter had gained more than 50 percent of votes. The official election results should be published in the press not later than ten days after the election day.

The previous parliamentary elections were held in December 2008, when under the new provisions introduced in the Turkmen Constitution in 2008 the number of deputies was increased from 65 to 125 and the lawmakers were vested with the powers to announce presidential elections. Permanent Mejilis speaker is Akdzha Nurberdyeva since 2007.

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