AP NEWS

Turkmenistan president’s son appointed minister

February 8, 2020 GMT

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Turkmenistan’s autocratic president has named his only son to head the country’s newly established ministry for construction and industry.

The appointment that was announced Saturday in the government’s newspaper Neitralny Turkmenistan comes just days after President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov allocated $1.5 billion for the construction of a new city in the province that was governed by his son Serdar, even as the country’s economy is weakened by low global energy prices.

Serdar Berdymukhamedov is widely viewed as being groomed to succeed his father, who has established a pervasive cult of personality since becoming Turkmenistan’s leader in 2006. By moving from the regional governorship to the ministerial post, the son is likely to gain prominence as the head of costly and visible projects.

Turkmenistan’s economy is overwhelmingly dependent on exports of its vast natural gas reserves. Amid low prices for gas, Berdymukhamedov last year slashed state subsidies that allowed the country’s residents to use gas, electricity and water for free.