Electioneering and Turkmenistan’s Presidential Election 2017

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Electioneering is in full swing in Turkmenistan where Presidential Election 2017 will be held on February 12, 2017. Three political parties have nominated their candidates for the presidential election. The Central Committee for Elections and Referendums has registered nine candidates for the Presidential Election 2017.

The Democratic Party nominated incumbent president H.E. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov; the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs elected Board Director of “Rysgal” Joint Stock Commercial Bank Begmyrat Atalyev; the Agrarian Party selected Durdygylych Orazov, the Chairman of Mary Velayat Committee.

Moreover, “Initiative Groups of the Citizens” nominated Maksat Annanepesov, the Deputy Chairman of the State Association of Food Industry of Turkmenistan, Jumanazar Annayev, the Deputy Hyakim of Mary Velayat, Ramazan Durdiyev, the Director of Seydi Refinery, Meretdurdy Gurbanov, deputy Hyakim of Dashoguz Velayat, Serdar Jelilov, the director of the Head Department of Economy and Development of Ahal Velayat; Suleymannepes Nurnepesov, General Director of Production Association “Karabogazsulphat” for Presidential Elections 2017.

Initiative groups believe in participatory development, capacity building, massive socio-economic development and above all alternativeness. In Turkmenistan six Initiative groups have been formed during the ongoing election campaign for the Presidential Elections 2017.

Political activity is at its peak and every candidate for Presidential Election is busy to meet with people/voters to win the election to be held on February 2017. Because every vote counts 2582 polling centres have been established. 39 polling centres have also been established at foreign diplomatic missions of Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan is a matured country in which Presidential Elections 2017 is going to hold under conditions of new political reality and improved legal framework. Three political parties participate in Presidential election for the first time in Turkmenistan. The “Law in the Electoral Code of Turkmenistan” guarantees fair, free and transparence elections in the country from top to bottom. It was promulgated in 2013 and institutionalized in accordance with general international standards.

It provides each and every possible detail about elections along with different stages and apparatus. According to this Code, the candidate for President of Turkmenistan has to be a citizen, who was born in Turkmenistan, not younger than 40 years old, speaking the State language and who lived and worked in the country during previous 15 years. Voter age is 18 years.

Turkmenistan’s Central Commission for Elections and Referendums has invited more 3223 international observers for the Presidential Election 2017 who are absolutely free to monitor the proceedings of it. Members of the Mission of the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have reached to Turkmenistan for evaluation of organization and conduct of the Presidential Election to be held on February 12.

Turkmenistan’s Central Commission for Elections and Referendums held an interactive meeting with them and during the meeting the participants noted the efficiency of its legal standards and international practices of elections campaigns. Central Commission for Elections and Referendums briefed about different events for the upcoming Presidential Election 2017 not confined to list of election districts, pooling stations and samples of documents. It shared that the first two phases of election campaign i.e. nomination and registration of the candidates for the highest government post were held in accordance with existing legislation of Turkmenistan which provided the foundation of the democratic elections. It also briefed the OSCE that all electioneering and especially the Presidential Election are organized on the international standards by keeping in view the elements of fair, free and transparency. Equal right of access, association, assembly, political campaign and the last but not the least mass media projection is guaranteed equally to all the candidates for all the elections in the country.

The active participation of national and international observers and largest international organizations including the CIS, SCO as well as evaluation groups of the ODIHR/OSCE confirm, Turkmenistan’s government highest level of neutrality in the Presidential Election 2017. They will have free opportunity to monitor the course of election campaign and the voting, to visit pooling stations in the capital and velayats of the country.

Representative of the Central Election Committee assured the OSCE that all necessary conditions would be established for free monitoring of all stages of the events/activities during the Presidential Elections in Turkmenistan. It will be held in accordance of international standards with atmosphere of complete publicity and openness.

Turkmenistan has already established sustainable relations with interested international partners for achieving sustained socio-economic development, empowerment of women, human rights, energy cooperation, climate change and the last but not the least, sustainable transport system. It has also an open door policy for inviting international observers and evaluation groups to monitor elections which is resultant of its constant and broad democratic reform, which was proved by the adoption of new Election Code. The members of the ODIHR/OSCE delegation expressed the willingness of their organization to continue comprehensive support of Turkmen side in implementation of legal reform, which is aimed at continued progress of national legislation and election system.

The members of the mission of the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE also visited the Ministry of Justice. During the briefing the protection and provision of rights and freedoms of the citizens under the campaign for the Presidential elections in Turkmenistan was highlighted.

The OSCE members will also visit the Mejlis, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State News Agency (TDH), State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting and Cinematography, Turkmen National Institute of Democracy and Human Rights under the President of Turkmenistan, in non-government organizations including the Female Council and Youth Organization. It shows highest levels of openness and transparency of Turkmenistan’s people, State, departments and policy makers to always welcome and hospitalize all the international observers, organizations and evaluation groups in their country. Moreover, meetings with the candidates for the post of the President of Turkmenistan, who were nominated by political parties and initiative groups of the citizens, will be also organized.

Election observation Mission from Commonwealth of Independent States is also in Turkmenistan and pursuing monitoring of the Presidential election 2017. It convened a meeting with top echelon of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan. Mission’s members met with election agents of candidate for the President of Turkmenistan who informed about organizing campaign, led by them. The CIS Election observation Mission noted, that candidates had meetings with voters and TV broadcast having equal conditions and opportunities. It is the basic essence of a true democratic country.

Experts of the CIS election observation Mission analyzed the electoral legislation of Turkmenistan. Its results will be reflected in an interim statement of the CIS election observation Mission, scheduled to be published in the early part of the next week.

Currently, the Mission is proceeding to form, accreditation documents of more than 70 observers from 8 states of Commonwealth, Inter-parliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member Nations, Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and Russia, and Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of the Independent States. Among them are deputies of national parliaments, heads and members of election commissions of Commonwealth countries, diplomatic community with experience of presidential and parliamentary election observations. On the election date, Mission members are all assumed to observe in all velayats and capital.

Concluding Remarks

Turkmenistan is a true democratic country where every election is held in accordance with international standards of fair, free and transparency. There are so many international election observers, regional and international organizations and international evaluation groups to free monitor the Presidential Election 2017. The Central Committee for Elections and Referendums is an independent organ of the State which is absolutely free to organize a free, fair and transparent election. Its voter is vibrant and educated enough to exercise its free will on the day of Presidential Election 2017.

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