Turkmen authorities have completed the drafting of constitutional changes to remove the age barrier preventing individuals at the age of 70 and above to run for presidency as well as to increase the duration of a presidential term by two years to seven years, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on February 20, citing state-run Turkmen newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan. The current constitution allows a president to be continuously re-elected until the age of 70, while the presidential term is five years long.
By removing the age barrier, the 58 year-old Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov will now be able to run for re-election indefinitely, which can be seen as a move to ensure Berdimuhamedov’s lifelong presidency. The decision to alter the constitution also echoes the steps of the previous Turkmen president, Saparmurat Niyazov, who had initially prolonged his own presidential term and eventually declared himself a lifelong president of the country before his death in 2006.
Recently, neighbouring Tajikistan has also prepared constitutional changes that will allow Tajik President Emomali Rahmon to enjoy lifelong immunity from prosecution and to qualify for a lifelong presidency. In 2007 Kazakhstan amended its consitution to remove term limits for President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
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