Democracy Rising

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" ~ President John F. Kennedy

Monday, October 24, 2005

In Turkmenistan: Is Niyazov Ready To Step Down?

Noticed this over at Kabar (Kyrgyz News Agency) quoting Interfax:

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov said that presidential elections will be held in 2009.

"In 2009, we will hold the elections for another president," Niyazov said at the 16th meeting of the People's Assembly in Ashgabat.

"By that time, in four or five years, we will raise a worthy successor," the president said.

"There is nothing eternal. One cannot be eternal," Niyazov said.

Well these gestures certainly support his earlier announcements regarding Turkmenistan's move to multi-candidate elections in a few years time. So how much truth is contained in these sentiments of democratic Presidential elections?

Turkmenbashi certainly has absolutely no regard for the international community and its opinions. These moves are certainly not as a result of western pressure - Niyazov gets away with all sorts of bizzare policies (maybe due to his nations large energy resources?). Additionally, any true democrat would have Niyazov locked up within weeks of coming to power for his numerous human rights abuses.
What is more likely to evolve is a hybrid between Uzbekistan's current political climate and Turkmenistan's legislative elections. Parties (created by the authorities) may be allowed to exist under the banner of 'opposition' but in actual fact pose no threat to the status quo. Similarly a series of Niyazov-approved candidates may be allowed to run for President, but none will represent the opposition or anti-Turkmenbashi groups. By standing aside and allowing a political heir to take control, Niyazov may be able to buy himself some more time before the people rise up and overthrow his regime.

But wait...whats this?

The Khalk Maslehaty (Peoples Council) began today and was expected to announce these 'reforms'. Whilst it is preparing to approve legislation to create a 'democratic' level of accountability at village and regional level, delegates quickly pushed any talk of Presidential elections off the agenda. A rare piece of subversion by the Council, how terribly democratic.....

The whole proceedings, as can be expected in such a scenario, soon turned into a comedy as delegates fought (only verbally mind) over who loved the Prez more.

Myrat Karriyev, got the ball rolling “I want to speak about the [point on agenda on] presidential elections. I would like to remind that we solved this problem on 28 December 1999 when we elected the Great Leader [as our] President for Life...I propose to remove this item from the agenda.”

Ovezgeldy Atayev, chairman of the Turkmen Parliament chipped in saying, “I would request the president in his capacity as the chairman of Khalk Maslehaty to remove the item from the agenda completely. We should not return to this subject again.”

Dr. Onjuk Musayev, secretary general of the democratic party of Turkmenistan, joined in the fray, “Our Great Leader is truly great (hmm great vocab) and we don’t want any other person.”

If you want to read more of this farce just check out the article. The Niyazov love-fest continues for several more paragraphs. Those of a nervous disposition will be pleased to hear that in the end it was decided that Turkmenbashi was a) great and b) could remain President-for-life after all. And they all lived happily ever after....