Gurbangkuly Berdimuhammedow

Gurbangkuly Berdimuhammedow


ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Turkmenistan has set presidential elections for Feb. 12 in the rigidly-controlled, energy-rich nation in Central Asia.

Turkmen state media published a parliament decision Friday setting the date for the vote. The elections will be a mere formality extending the rule of authoritarian President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov.

Last month, he challenged exiled opposition leaders to return and take part in the vote, but the law only allows those permanently residing in Turkmenistan for the past 15 years to run for president.

Berdymukhamedov has led the ex-Soviet nation since the 2006 death of his eccentric autocratic predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov. Berdymukhamedov has introduced some reforms, but Turkmenistan remains a one-party state.