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Turkmenistan’s president leaves ruling party

August 18, 2013

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Turkmenistan’s president has stepped down from his post as leader of the ruling party ahead of a parliamentary election that for the first time will feature two competing parties.

President Gurbanbuly Berdymukhamedov said on state television this weekend that his decision was aimed at giving both parties an equal chance in the December election.

A business-oriented political party created a year ago is likely to end the Democratic Party’s two-decade-long monopoly in parliament. But it is unlikely to lead to substantive democratization in the authoritarian ex-Soviet state.

Both parties support Berdymukhamedov, who runs the energy-rich Central Asian country with an iron fist.

The Democratic Party was created in 1991 on the basis of the dissolved Communist Party.