It looks like we’ve got a presidential horse race underway in Turkmenistan. According to the semi-official Turkmenistan.ru website, several men who profess to want to unseat the incumbent, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, have hit the campaign trail.
In all, seven candidates are challenging Berdymukhamedov in the February 12 election, a crowded presidential field that seems odd, given that watchdog groups describe Turkmenistan as one of the most repressive states on earth. The country also has only one legally registered political party, the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, which is under Berdymukhamedov’s thumb.
The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) announced earlier in January that it will not bother to send observers for the voting. In a statement, ODIHR said it "does not consider that the deployment of an election observation mission, even of a limited nature, would add value at this point in time."
To read the full story