Eight candidates registered for Turkmen presidential vote - Emirates24|7

Eight candidates registered for Turkmen presidential vote

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov will run against seven figurehead candidates in next month's polls, which are seen as a formality to extend his unchallenged rule, the authorities said.

Candidates including the water resources minister, the energy and industry minister and a cotton factory director will contest the February 12 polls in which Berdymukhamedov will seek re-election to a second term.

"Eight candidates have been registered," said the Central Election Commission.

Opposition parties are officially banned in the reclusive energy-rich country and there is no limit to how many terms the president can serve.

A former dentist who has ruled Turkmenistan since 2007, Berdymukhamedov also serves as the prime minister, commander-in-chief and the head of the country's only political party, the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, the successor to the Communist Party.

Berdymukhamedov had for the first time invited the opposition to take part in the presidential polls, but all its leaders live in exile and face arrest if they return and none has entered the race.

One of the world's most secretive states besides North Korea, Turkmenistan has immense gas reserves that attract the West as an alternative source of energy for Europe, which is keen to reduce its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.

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