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.
Four months ago, Obama hailed Yemen as a model for "successful" partnerships however earlier on Friday had said that some counterterrorism operations had been halted in the wake of the takeover.
Obama said the two countries had made progress on two issues holding up commercial civil nuclear cooperation, one of the major irritants in bilateral ties.
The kidnapping of Armel Ningatoloum Sayo follows the kidnapping earlier this week of a U.N. staff member and a French charity worker
Military says victim abducted by suspected kidnap-for-ransom gang with possible Abu Sayyaf links.
Hundreds of families were on Sunday trying to move into safer areas of Maiduguri, the provincial capital of Nigeria's northeastern Borno state
The death toll in pro-democracy protests in Egypt on Sunday climbed to 11, security sources said. Tight security in Cairo and other cities failed to contain protests marking the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Kerry's visit, in which he held talks with two candidates, highlights the stakes for Washington in what is expected to be Nigeria's closest election since its 1999 transition from military rule.
"We decided not to approve this government because it does not represent all the political classes and it breaks with the consensual way we have worked recently," Ennahda leader Sahbi Atig said
The Socialist Party denounced a Houthi attack earlier on a protest in capital Sanaa by a group of party student members.
Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko said on Saturday the separatists planned to encircle Debaltseve, which has a population of around 26,000.
Dutch UN peacekeeping force was stationed six kilometers from Srebrenica during 1995 massacre.
The 14-year-old girl was detained by Israeli forces on December 31 of 2014 on her way back home from school in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Kidnappings have become frequent in the North African country, where two governments and parliaments, allied to different armed factions, are vying for legitimacy and control
European leaders eye the results fo the elections closely as a Syriza victory may generate a clash with the Troika -- the EU, European Central Bank and the IMF -- which could possibly start a new crisis between the nation and its creditors, with the euro in the balance.
Media images of the top diplomats from old adversaries strolling together in a foreign land provoked an outcry among Iranian hard-liners deeply wary of rapprochement with the "Great Satan".
Islamic Front military commander issues ultimatum to Bashar al-Assad regime calling it to stop attacks on suburb of capital Damascus or else opposition fighters would attack regime positions with rockets