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Saparmurat Niyazov on Elections, Turkmen Democracy and Consolidation of Authority in Turkmenistan

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SAPARMURAT TURKMENBASHY THE GREAT (1940-2006)

Saparmurat Niyazov's Speech at the Opening Session of the Mejlis (Parliament) of Turkmenistan of Third Convocation (1 February 2005)

PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

Praising the peaceful and orderly conduct of parliamentary elections, Niyazov said, "This is an important event in the history of Turkmen people."

He added, "We live in a peaceful country [where] people have amicable relations [with each other]. The quiet and productive life of our sovereign country is not shaken by any conflicts and scandals."

Rating highly the performance of the central election commission, Niyazov announced one month's extra salary as bonus for all the employees of the commission.

ROLE OF PARLIAMENT

"Parliament's role and authority were determined during the last year's elections and relationship between the state and the parliament (Mejlis) was defined. However, time does not stand still and new periods of time bring new challenges. We have an eye on that and that is why by the end of 2006 we shall consider the question of expansion of powers of the parliament."

"For now the parliament would continue as a lawmaking body because perfection of laws of the land is still a major task for us. For independent development of our modern state, we need national laws in all spheres of economy and policy - the laws that serve the interests of the people, society and country as a whole," - said Niyazov.

Alluding to this shift of power, Niyazov said during his speech, "We have not allocated any supervisory functions to the parliament because it is not immediately necessary."

"As is known, our Khalk Maslehaty has extensive powers and it can change the constitution of Turkmenistan. With one third of member votes it can bring up questions related to impeachment of the president and amendments to the constitution."

Niyazov said that during the soviet time the parliament of the Turkmenia SSR had 364 members but they did not have any rights. They could not discuss any questions related to the economy or internal or external policy.

"It was a puppet parliament. After independence, we abandoned that dysfunctional institution and created a body of 50 educated experts in the area of jurisprudence."

"I expect that in 2008-2009 we may need to expand the number of the members of parliament up to 120," - told Niyazov.

NON-PARTY BASED ELECTIONS

"I would like to emphasize that we shall not elect deputies of the parliament through a party or faction," - said Niyazov.

He acknowledged that although there was rich experience in the world where deputies to the parliament were elected on the basis of party affiliations but he rejected that model for Turkmenistan. He explained that by going for proportional representation where parties nominated deputies to the parliament according the percentage of overall votes they bagged one ran the risk of discarding the opinion of those voters whose parties did not get enough votes to send MPs to the parliament.

"In a small country like ours, practically everyone knows important people in districts and provinces. Therefore, we shall go for direct elections," - declared Niyazov.

He said that from the current population of 6.552 million, there were 2.472 million registered voters. "In future they would get the opportunity to elect only those they know well."

He also explained, "If we begin to create groups and parties, it would generate the risk of infringement of interests of some groups."

"Therefore, up to 2020, elections to the Turkmen parliament would not be held on party basis," - he said.

TURKMEN DEMOCRACY

"The way we are following now does not fracture democracy," - said Niyazov.

He said that the presidential elections would also be held. "Even though you have elected me president for life, the elections must be held for the [next] president," - Niyazov said.

He said that the future presidents should follow the constitutional restrictions where it is prescribed that the president cannot serve for more than two consecutive terms of five years each. "Let the future president occupy the post for no more than ten years."

He underlined, "It is important to understand and remember that under our constitution the elections are held by direct voting. This is the way we shall go in future."

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN STATE AND PARLIAMENT

"As I have told already, we shall gradually expand the powers of the parliament. First of all, it means that with expansion of powers, there would be more responsibilities," - said Niyazov.

He stressed that the deputies should be their own critics and should debate their own shortcomings in the parliament. They should also be answerable before the people if they cannot correct their shortcomings. He said that it is difficult to pinpoint the drawbacks and it is still more difficult to correct the drawbacks.

"As you can understand, it is a complex and delicate question, requiring careful study and weighted approach. God willing, we shall discuss this question in Khalk Maslehaty in 2006 and we shall go to the next elections under the new rules," - Niyazov told.

"However," he emphasized, "now, as later, the parliament should be in harmony with the state and should actively participate in all the affairs of the state."

He said that the duty and mission of the elected representatives was to participate in state affairs and to answer for the final results. Clarifying the management structure, Niyazov said that basic respondent should be the executive authority. For instance, he said, if there was some shortcoming in the work of the ministry of defence, it should answer to the president. Likewise, he said, it something was wrong in Mary province, the provincial governor would be answerable before the president.

"Parliament should reveal, investigate and eliminate the drawbacks [where found]," - Niyazov told.

He reminded that parliament today had these powers.

CONSOLIDATION OF AUTHORITY

Niyazov underlined, "By consolidating the authority, we shall consolidate the society."

He said that national movements such as Galkynysh should play an important role here. He said that in the beginnings of 1990's we unanimously declared "Ten Years of Stability" and it had given good results.

"However, life dictated new goals and we have already embarked on a programme for 20 years," - said the Turkmen president.

He said that the new national development programme up to 2020 was already showing great promises as one of the features of the new strategy was to double the salaries of public sector workers every five years.

He said that national unity was the key to progress and development. He said that if the parliament looked one way and the administration the other way and if there was tussle for creation of political parties, the country would not achieve anything.

He said that in order to achieve better standard of living and ensure well being of future generations, it was necessary to maintain solidarity in the society, especially in the youth.

Source: www.newscentralasia.com

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