Turkmenistan’s Presidential Election 2017

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

The Central Commission for Election and Referenda of Turkmenistan has announced the results of recently held Presidential Election 2017. According to the CEC, incumbent President H.E. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has won the election by clear majority. Voters turned out were 97.27 percent which reflected the high civic engagement and the conscious desire of the people to directly participate in the further process of democratic reforms in Turkmenistan. Nine candidates nominated by different political parties and Initiative groups of Turkmen citizens actively participated in the said election which was contested according to the international standards of fair, free and transparency.

The CEC had 2548 polling stations throughout the country for Presidential Election. At diplomatic missions of Turkmenistan abroad 39 polling stations were opened for Presidential Election. 3223 international observers monitored the electioneering of the Presidential Election 2017.

Representatives of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, CIS, OIC and other national. Regional and international organizations were afforded an opportunity to visit the polling stations of the capital and provinces, both before and during the election.

All candidates for Presidential Election had equal opportunity for electioneering and campaigning. The CEC has granted equal access to all the candidates on state media (print & electronic), regional newspapers and outdoor advertisement. Every candidate has his own specific manifestation and political dispensation. Every candidate tried his best to convince his supporters to vote for him.

Turkmenistan is a peace-loving country for centuries and centuries which do not allow any individual or organ of the state to act beyond its legitimate powers granted by its dynamic constitution. Presidential Election was held peacefully, with not a single incident reported for election booth looting, ballot paper snatching, firing and killing of a political worker and above all no evidence for any kind of pre or post-election rigging throughout the country.

It is the dilemma of so called democratic countries of Asia, South East Asia, Africa and of course Latin America where voters are being marginalized, votes are being fudged and results are being manipulated. In the presence of international observers and having strong political commitment from the top to bottom, every step of said Presidential Election reconfirmed that Turkmenistan is a “Democratic Country” which has its own unique style of governance which is people, investors and business friendly. Its governance is pro-development, pro-humanity, pro-democracy which cares about its people, institutes and the last but not the least, “Rule of the Law”. Moreover, according to international observers, from the very first minutes of the opening of all polling stations the voting process showed highest civil maturity, national responsibility and consciousness of its people living within the country or around the globe.

Voting for Presidential Election was started on 7 AM till 19.00. During Presidential Election the election campaign and the media campaign, started from the date of registration of candidates, lasted till 10th of February. Electoral Code of Turkmenistan’s article 73 permitted “Early Voting” which was based on true spirits of democracy in which every vote is counted and documented. The early voting was carried out from February 2 to February 11 daily from 08:00 to 18:00.

Presidential Election 2017 was an important event in socio-economic-politico life of Turkmenistan. It determined the strategy of further development of the country and indicated on adherence of Turkmenistan to democratic values and the last but not the least, sustainable development. The current election campaign was totally different from the Presidential Elections held in 2007 and 2012. It was organized with new conditions of new political reality and improved legislative measures and mechanism. For the first time, three political parties namely the Democratic Party, the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, and the Agrarian Party participated in the Presidential elections. Six initiative groups of citizens were also formed, which nominated their candidates for the post of the President.

Results of the Presidential Election 2017 reconfirmed President H.E. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov’s strategic political vision, superior macro-economic policies for achieving sustainable development, regional and international recognition of neutrality status, democratization and the last but not the least constant persuasion of “qualitative life”. Voters supported his socio-economic and political policies for further consolidation of macro-economy and improvement of social life. It also demonstrated freedom of expression of Turkmenistan’s people and their faith in President H.E. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. Re-election to presidency of the Turkmenistan is bright indicator of high trust of the people aimed at steadfast prosperity of the country and wellbeing of its citizens. Solidarity of the people of Turkmenistan by such high participation in the election, is stipulated by people’s decision for stability and further comprehensive development of Turkmenistan.

Regional and international leaders congratulated President H.E. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for winning the Presidential election 2017. They conveyed their good wishes for the further socio-economic prosperity of the country.

International observers belonging to Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as well as the mission of observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States confirmed elements of fair, free and transparency in the Presidential Election 2017. They all satisfied that the Presidential elections in Turkmenistan have been successfully organized on broad alternative basis, in conditions of openness and transparency, and with high activity of the electorate.

It was also confirmed by the Observation Mission of the Commonwealth of Independent States, represented by the deputies of national parliaments and chairpersons and members of central election committees, diplomatic corps of Russian Federation, Azerbaijan Republic, Republic of Armenia, Republic of Belarus, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Tajikistan, Republic of Uzbekistan, Inter-Parliament Assembly of the CIS countries, Parliamentary Council of Belarus and Russia Union, Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States that the election campaign and Presidential Election was organized according to the international standards of free, fair and transparency. It was an open competition which was contested in professional manner and high organizational level.

International observers were even from the United Nations, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Islamic Cooperation Organization, representatives of the People’s Republic of China, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Japan, Austrian Republic, United Arab Emirates, Turkish Republic, Islamic Republic of Iran, republic of India, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan freely monitored the said Presidential Election 2017.

International observers were completely free to meet with the candidates, people, and of course supports throughout the country which pure based on Turkmenistan’s principles of neutrality, non-interference in internal affairs, respect for the laws of the hosting State, objectivity in the evaluation of the campaign, the organization and the course of elections. Electioneering was conducted with universally recognized norms of international law in the field of democratic elections and serving as sufficient legal basis to ensure free and open expression of the will of voters. Shortcomings identified by some international observers were “Insignificant in Nature” mainly technical, and did not affect the legitimacy of the elections. It was mainly because of local culture and traditions.

International observers emphasized that the presidential campaign for the Presidential Election 2017 was held in compliance with the international standards of equality, human rights, freedom of speech/association, respect for the “Free Will” of the people/voters by providing a friendly atmosphere for voting. They stated, the Turkmen people voted for stability, for the course, which is undertaken by the current leadership of Turkmenistan, aimed at improving the social standards of citizens, and further growth of the national economy.

They also stressed that the people of Turkmenistan showed their unbreakable cohesion, unity and devotion to precepts of the ancestors, and made a significant step towards the further state development. The election of the head of state was highly organized and held in the atmosphere of inspiration and emotional uplift.

International observers freely observed that election legislation of Turkmenistan underwent considerable changes toward more openness, publicity, democracy for the last years and completely corresponds to general standards of international law. All necessary conditions were established for the work of national and international observers what indicated the openness and transparency of the election process. In particular, the Headquarter of the Mission, provided with necessary office equipment and communication, reference and methodological literature, was opened with the assistance of the Central Election Committee.

While monitoring the election campaign, the CIS observers held number of meetings including with the leaders of the Central Committee, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, official representatives of the candidates as well as familiarized with activity of divisional election committees in Ahal, Dashoguz, Lebap velayats and Ashgabat. They plan to visit polling stations on the day of the elections to monitor voting process and counting.

According to the new Constitution the presidential term extended up to 7 years that is a choice made by us today determines our destiny for the next seven years.

State News Agency of Turkmenistan (TDH) made special links on its webpage tdh.gov.tm and on “Turkmenistan: the Golden Age” for widespread political awareness. Besides, on the day of election, these websites as well as TV and radio channels reflected the course of the voting in two-hour intervals. The CEC provided transparent ballot box including portable ones, ballot papers, reference and methodological literature to all the polling stations throughout the country. Premises with special ballot cabins were allocated for voting. Every polling station was equipped with reliable communication and transport means.

Divisional election committees comprised of competent representatives of labour groups and non-governmental organizations performed their duties. Large explanatory work among the population was done at the sites, what stipulated increased activity of the constituents.

Concluding Remarks

According to the CEC, incumbent President H.E. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has won the election by clear majority. Turkmenistan is indeed a democratic country which is vibrant where people elect their representatives through free will and fair voting patterns. Its political system is based on mutual respect, cooperation and coordination due to which there is not a single incident of political chaos, anarchy or constitutional deadlock in the country since its inception and recently held Presidential Election 2017 once again reconfirmed its superior political norms and true democratic spirits.

All the candidates shared good spirits and did not follow their vested interests for winning election. Elections are always arranged and contested at the international standards of fair, free and transparency in Turkmenistan. Every candidate for any election including Presidential has equal rights of access to information, association, publication and political campaigning in the country and Presidential Election 2017 once again showcased highest levels of political stability which is achieved through continuation of political system through regular elections at every level and furthermore, within the provision of the constitution.

The Republic of Turkmenistan is a multiparty democracy. It has Presidential form of democracy in which different political parties freely participate in all elections. In recently Presidential Election 2017 three main political parties participated along with 6 candidates nominated by the initiative groups of citizen. Presidential Election 2017 once again upheld that Turkmenistan has rich history and traditions of politicization and democratization.

Undoubtedly its democracy is functional, strong, stable and sustainable where basic human rights of the people are the foremost duty of the State. It has a dynamic “Constitution” by which rule of the law has been institutionalized. Its democracy stands for social welfare, respect for individual, protection of human rights, equality, tranquility and above all social justice, because no one is above the law.

Its democracy stands for services where provision of basic necessities of life namely education, medication, shelter and clean drinking water is the duty of the state and totally free. It democracy stands for freedom of association, affiliation with equal playground for any business activity. Its democracy upholds the traditions of political accommodation not political revenge or vendetta. Its democracy sustains the spirits of cooperation and coordination and not conspiracies and contradictions as a common political tool for survival in most of the countries of Asia, Africa, Latina America and even Europe. Its democracy supports the culture of tolerance and interfaith harmony and protects the rights of weaker factions of the society as well as minorities. Its democracy strengthens its socio-economic development.

There were so many international election observers, regional and international organizations and international evaluation groups freely monitored 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.

Turkmenistan’s political system is productive, progressive and people’s friendly where people through their free voting patterns elect their representatives including the President Election 2017.

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