(Berlin) – Turkmenistan’s appalling human rights record undermines the possibility of a free and fair presidential election on February 12, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. The election climate in Turkmenistan denies its citizens the ability to choose their president freely or enjoy freedom of expression or access to information.
“Turkmenistan has never held a free and fair election and this one is no exception,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Genuine elections are impossible where authorities maintain tight control over all aspects of public life, violating basic rights relating to freedom of the media, expression, and civil society.”
The incumbent president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, 59, who has served for two terms, is running for re-election as one of nine candidates. Constitutional changes in September 2016, widely seen as allowing him to remain president for life, removed restrictions on the president’s age, and extended the presidential term from five to seven years.