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article imageTurkmenistan leader sacks two ministers, tax chief

By AFP     Apr 9, 2016 in World

Energy-rich Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov sacked two ministers and the top tax official, government media reported Saturday as low prices for hydrocarbon exports continue to bite.

Berdymukhamedov dismissed the officials for "serious shortcomings" at a Friday meeting of the secretive country's cabinet of ministers, an article posted on the state-run Turkmenistan.ru website said.

The sacked senior officials were economy and development minister Eldash Sheripov, trade minister Bayar Abayev and tax service chief Shatlyk Khumedov.

Sheripov and Khumedov were replaced respectively by former subordinates Batyr Bazarov and Saperberdy Gundogdiyev, while ex-Chamber of Commerce head Dovran Orazmyradov has replaced Abayev as tax chief.

Berdymukhamedov, 58, has been conducting an extended shuffling of the cabinet as the country wrestles with an economic crisis brought on by low oil and gas prices.

Last year the all-powerful leader issued a call for greater economic diversification, in a rare admission of the national economy's over-reliance on oil and gas revenues that make up 90 percent of exports.

Currently China is Ashgabat's leading buyer of natural gas while Russian firm Gazprom announced at the beginning of the year it had ceased importing gas from the country.

Berdymukhamedov came to power in Turkmenistan in 2006 following the death of Saparmurat Niyazov, described as "the father of the Turkmen".

He subsequently set about reducing signs of the late president's bizarre cult of personality, which included Niyazov renaming months of the year after himself and relatives.

Last year, the government unveiled a gold-leaf statue of Berdymukhamedov on horseback in the capital Ashgabat, echoing a similar effigy to Niyazov that once rotated to follow the sun’s movements in central Ashgabat but which has since been relocated to the suburbs.

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