Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageTurkmen president's birthday celebrations reinforce personality cult

By AFP     Jun 29, 2015 in World

Citizens of gas-rich Turkmenistan marked strongman President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov's 58th birthday in the national capital Ashgabat Monday by attending the opening of an ostentatious park named in his honour.

Local performers sang newly-composed songs praising Berdymukhamedov, as schoolchildren, university students, government ministers and foreign diplomats all looked on in sweltering evening temperatures of over 40 degrees celsius.

The park, named 'Arkadag', to reflect Berdymukhamedov's state-appointed role as the isolated Central Asian nation's 'Protector' is seven hectares in size and features a cascade of oriental arches cast in white marble, the material which dominates the city of around one million people.

The largest of the arches frames a 50-square-metre (540-square-foot) smiling portrait of Berdymukhamedov -- who was not in attendance -- sporting traditional garb and a white sheepskin hat.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov's current presidential term ends in 2017 when he will face...
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov's current presidential term ends in 2017 when he will face re-election
Dmitry Kostyukov, AFP/File

"You lead our beloved motherland from one victory to the next. The people completely trust in their Protector and wholeheartedly support your policies," read an address in Monday's state newspapers attributed to Akdja Nurberdieva, Speaker of Turkmenistan's rubber-stamp parliament.

The personality cult growing up around Berdymukhamedov is increasingly compared to that of his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, who built a gold statue of himself which rotated with the sun's movements and styled himself 'Father of the Turkmen' while renaming months of the year after family members.

Niyazov's golden statue no longer rotates and has been put out to pasture in another park around 100 metres from Arkadag Park which now seems set to become the most popular destination for family strolls in the baking Turkmen summer.

A similarly noteworthy golden monument was unveiled for Berdymukhamedov on a day celebrating the national capital last month, depicting the president -- a keen equestrian -- on horseback with a dove perched on his right hand.

Young Turkmen men and women take part in an opening ceremony of the first monument to Turkmenistan&a...
Young Turkmen men and women take part in an opening ceremony of the first monument to Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov in Ashgabat on May 25, 2015
Igor Sasin, AFP

Berdymukhamedov, who took power after Niyazov's death in 2006, appears likely to tighten his already considerable grip on power as parliament considers constitutional changes that would increase the presidential term from five to seven years and remove the presidential age limit of 70 from the constitution.

His current presidential term ends in 2017 when he will face re-election.

More about Turkmenistan, President, Celebration
More news from
Latest News
Top News