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New Turkmen constitution allows multipartism

Latest update : 2008-09-26

A new constitution has been adopted in Turkmenistan, allowing more democracy in a country considered as one of the most closed in the world. The text allows multi-party politics and establishes a market economy for the first time.

The energy-rich Central Asian state of Turkmenistan Friday adopted a new constitution promoting multi-party politics and a market economy for the first time, officials said.

"The new constitution has been adopted unanimously," President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said at a meeting of the People's Council, a body of 2,500 tribal elders and local government officials.

"The previous constitution is outdated. It does not match our progress."

The reform marks a dramatic change for this isolated and highly authoritarian ex-Soviet republic that has signalled it wants to open up to the West to encourage investment in its huge gas reserves.

Turkmenistan is strategically located between the Caspian Sea and Afghanistan and is seen by Western officials and multinational corporations as a potential key energy source that could reduce dependency on Russian reserves.

The new constitution allows for the formation of multiple political parties in a country that currently only has one party. The Democratic Party headed by Berdymukhamedov is in practice the successor to the Soviet-era Communist Party.

The document also enshrines market economy principles for the first time.

"Turkmenistan confirms the right to private property on means of production, land and other material and intellectual assets," read the text.

Turkmenistan "is striving towards a market economy.... The state encourages and supports entrepreneurship and small business development," it continued.

Date created : 2008-09-26