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Observer: Turkmenistan ballots stuffed

Feb. 13, 2012 at 11:26 AM   |   Comments

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- There were signs the weekend presidential election in Turkmenistan was rigged in favor of the incumbent, a witness said.

Seven candidates challenged Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov during a weekend vote, though all of the candidates were from Berdimuhamedov's party, the only legal party in the country.

Ashirkuly Bayriev, an independent journalist in the country, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that he observed irregularities at the voting booth.

"I saw a person carrying several passports," he said. "I figured that, based on all those passports, he was planning to get ballots to vote on behalf of all of his family members."

There is a cult of personality surrounding Berdimuhamedov, who also serves as prime minister and military commander in chief. Berdimuhamedov, in office since 2006, was awarded another five-year term with more than 97 percent of the vote. The country's election commission said more than 96 percent of the registered voters took part in the election.

A delegate from the Commonwealth of Independent States said there were no problems at the polls. No Western observers were invited to monitor the election.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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