In his January 9 televised campaign speech, Berdymukhamedov repeatedly linked Turkmenistan’s economic development to a need to democratize the country’s political system. He even called "for the creation of new parties and the organizations of independent mass media," explaining that Turkmenistan would benefit from "parties that would consolidate the people, inspire the people to creative labor in the name of the further flourishing of our Motherland." There was a catch to his pronouncement, naturally. Democratization will not apply to his own presidential reelection bid on February 12.
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