World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkmenistan launched its second political party on Tuesday, a token nod to democracy unlikely to pose any challenge to the absolute rule of President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov in the gas-rich Central Asian state.
The 300-member Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs held its inaugural meeting two years after the president ordered the creation of a multi-party system in the ex-Soviet republic.
State media reported that Orazmammed Mammedov, a member of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs - which itself was signed into being by the president last year - was elected chairman of the new party.
Known as Arkadag, or The Patron, Berdymukhamedov is president, prime minister, commander of the armed forces and leader of the Democratic Party which, until now, was the only legally registered political force in Turkmenistan.
Analysts are sceptical that the 54-year-old qualified dentist plans to relax his tight grip on the desert nation of 5.5 million people bordering Iran and Afghanistan, which BP says holds the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves.
Turkmen opposition activists live in exile and rights groups regularly rank the country among the world's most repressive. Human Rights Watch said in its latest annual report that media and religious freedoms were subject to "draconian restrictions."
Keen to win investment for the country's gas ambitions, Berdymukhamedov has taken steps to bring Turkmenistan out of the isolation that accompanied the eccentric rule of predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov, who banned opera and renamed the months of the year.
In his first public comments after winning re-election in February, Berdymukhamedov said he aimed to build a market economy and multi-party political system. He has also approved the creation of a third, agrarian party.
Berdymukhamedov extended his term by five years by winning 97 percent of votes in the Feb. 12 election, which was shunned by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe because of its lack of competition.
Berdymukhamedov set himself up against seven token challengers drawn from government ministries and state enterprises, several of whom openly praised the president's achievements prior to the vote.
Typhoon Lan, described as "very large and very strong" by Japan's meteorological agency, was packing gusts up to 216 kilometres (134 miles) per hour Sunday night in the Pacific south of Japan.
Airstrike hits militants in eastern Nangarhar province which borders Pakistan
Abe's conservative coalition was on track to win 311 seats in the 465-seat parliament, according to a projection published by private broadcaster TBS, putting the nationalist blue blood on course to become Japan's longest-serving leader.
Huge mounds of earth slipped off a hillside Saturday morning and buried the men as they worked on two apartment blocks of affordable housing on the island, which is popular with tourists.
Daily average of 26 killings is lower than 31 killings average during former administration’s final year
No hidden agenda behind Russia's weaponry donation to Philippines, assures envoy
Psychologists say braid-chopper who reportedly targets women is figment of imagination of people struck by conflict
DNA test confirms Isnilon Hapilon was killed in Marawi on Monday
Suicide attack at Kabul mosque kills at least 22, while bombing in central Ghor takes some 50 lives
Philippines' military begins pulling out troops from Marawi
Russian navy ships part of military cooperation between two countries.
Vows to enforce the law equally to protect people and the republic
US diplomatic cables become new evidence of 1965 mass killing in Indonesia
In two back to back suicide attacks aimed at the Shia community mosques in Afghanistan on Friday, close to 59 people were killed, officials have confirmed.
The group were among 11 employees of a state-run transport company, including bus drivers and cleaners, who were sleeping in the 60-year-old, two storey office block near a bus depo when a portion of it caved in.
Third corruption case involving Nawaz Sharif is related to ownership and partnership in several offshore companies