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TURKMENISTAN


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 6,010 7,672 4,000 110
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,120 1,200 950 131
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 333 - (26/09/08)

Turkmenistan is an exotic, strange place. It has had a stroke of luck. It had a quite ghastly dictator, Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in his sleep in December, 2006. 

To that a whole nation owed a deliverance.

The new man was the dentist of the dictator, also said to be a cousin, whatever, an infinite improvement. He has an almost unmentionably long name, in the most garish of sub-dialects of Turkmen. 

Rare clash reported in authoritarian Turkmenistan
Heavy gun battles between a radical Islamist group and security forces erupted overnight in the capital of Turkmenistan a rare instance of violence in the authoritarian Central Asian nation, media reports and a Western diplomat said on September 21.

The diplomat said there were unconfirmed reports that at least 20 members of the security forces were killed and some of the suspected fighters had been rounded up. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Witnesses in the capital Ashgabat told The Associated Press there was heavy, prolonged gunfire and some casualties in the fighting, though they did not know how many. They said they saw armoured personnel carriers patrolling the area and streets there were closed for much of the day.

Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty and a foreign-based opposition Web site named Gundogar said the clash was between a radical Islamist group and security forces.

Information is strictly controlled in Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic with large gas and oil reserves. State media did not report on the incident.

The small country borders Iran and Afghanistan and its population is overwhelmingly Muslim. But Islamic violence is virtually unheard of, as the government has vigorously stamped out all opposition.

The U.S. embassy in Turkmenistan warned Americans to stay away from the northern districts of city where the clashes took place. 

Turkmenistan to introduce multi-party system: officials declare
The biggest news of all, however, is that Turkmenistan, an energy-rich and highly authoritarian ex-Soviet state, is due to adopt a new constitution, allowing the creation of a multi-party political system, officials have said.

The Central Asian state, located on Afghanistan's western border, currently has just one political party, the Democratic Party, which is the former Communist Party and is headed up by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

The change is one of several reforms -- including a ban on torture and the defence of private property rights -- to be adopted at a session of the People's Council, a gathering of some 2,500 tribal elders and local officials.

Berdymukhamedov says the reforms will make Turkmenistan "more democratic." The Turkmen leader has signalled greater openness to democratic reforms and Western investment in the energy sector since taking over in 2006.

The changes also include the abolition of the People's Council, which was established by long-time dictator Saparmurat Niyazov to overshadow the authority of the parliament. Berdymukhamedov became president after Niyazov's death.

The country's 65-seat parliament will also be enlarged to 125 seats and the People's Council is expected to set a date for parliamentary elections after which presumably, it will be no more.

This of course a most welcome development, reflecting well on the president in question, although we will save the congratulations and wait to see whether the Parliament has any meaningful powers other than to be a mouthpiece of the president.
 

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