2017  N1-2(142-143)
ARTICLE OF THE ISSUE
HISTORICAL CHOICE
A total of nine presidential candidates were officially registered in the course of the election campaign, including incumbent President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov nominated by the Democratic Party; Chairman of the Board of the Joint-Stock Commercial Bank "Rysgal" Begmyrat Ataliyev nominated by the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs; and Chairman of the Mary branch of the Agrarian Party Durdygylych Orazov nominated by the Agrarian Party.
Other six presidential candidates were nominated by the action groups of citizens. They are Deputy Governor of Mary province Dzhumanazar Annayev; Director of the Seyydi Oil Refinery Ramazan Durdiyev; Deputy Governor of Dashoguz province Meretdurdy Gurbanov; Head of the Main Department for Economy and Development of Ahal province Serdar Dzhelilov; General Director of Production Association "Garabogazsulfat" of State Concern "Turkmenkhimiya" Suleyman Nurnepesov; and Deputy Chairman of State Food Industry Association Maksat Annanepesov.
In accordance with the national electoral legislation and international law, all registered presidential candidates enjoyed equal opportunities in terms of organization of meetings with voters and campaigning through television, radio and mass media.
It was for the first time that the Central Election Commission for Elections and Referenda in Turkmenistan launched the website saylav.gov.tm to provide information support for the election campaign.
The website of the Central Election Commission provided easy access to the normative-legal acts and related analytical and news materials. The website's "Legislation" section featured the Electoral Code of Turkmenistan, while "Library" section offered explanations of the legislative specifics of the national electoral system.
National observers representing the presidential candidates were also registered. They monitored the electoral process as part of the presidential elections in Turkmenistan. They all received standard certificates from the relevant election commissions. A total of 3223 observers were registered in the country. They included 610 observers from the Democratic Party, 336 - from the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, 407 - from the Agrarian Party, 687 - from the trade unions, 279 - from the Women's Union, 509 - from the Youth Organization, 321 - from the action groups of citizens, 74 - from the presidential candidates.
In accordance with the standard international practice, the observers enjoyed free access to the meetings of election commissions. They also observed the process of sealing of ballot boxes and visited polling stations before the start of voting, during voting, at the time of counting of votes, as well as during assessment of results of elections at polling stations and summing up of final results.
The CIS mission of observers arrived in Ashgabat on the eve of elections at the invitation of the Turkmen side. During the meeting at the Central Commission for Elections and Referenda in Turkmenistan, the international observers were briefed on the CEC's plan of activities, composition of election commissions, samples of election documents and the field work carried out by the CEC.
Observers from the European countries and a number of international organizations, including the SCO and the OSCE, were also invited to the elections of the President of Turkmenistan. They all had the opportunity to observe the election campaign and conduct of voting on the day of elections.
Citizens of Turkmenistan in Russia, who did not have the opportunity to take part in the presidential elections, had a chance to vote ahead of schedule in several cities of the Russian Federation, such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Elista and Krasnodar. On the day of elections, February 12, citizens of Turkmenistan in the Russian Federation had a chance to vote at two polling stations in Moscow and Astrakhan.
The day of elections was truly festive for the Turkmen society. The high voter turnout was due to the fact that people voted for their own future, for the power and prosperity of their native country.
At polling station No. 1 at the Embassy of Turkmenistan in the Russian Federation, the total number of votes cast exceeded 95 percent of the total number of registered voters. At polling station No.2 at the Consulate of Turkmenistan in the Russian Federation in Astrakhan, 90 percent of the total number of registered voters cast their ballots already by 15:00 local time.
A festive atmosphere reined at the polling station in Moscow. Refreshments were offered to the guests to the accompaniment of national melodies. The polling station reported the high turnout of voters who were mostly Turkmen students studying at the higher education establishments of the Moscow region. The voting lists accounted for several thousand citizens of Turkmenistan registered with the Consular Register, who live Moscow, the Moscow region and neighboring regions of the Russian Federation. The conduct of elections was covered by the federal TV channels.
The Central Commission for Elections and Referenda in Turkmenistan announced the preliminary results of the presidential election at a briefing in Ashgabat on the evening of the election day.
Foreign news agencies, electronic, print and other mass media reporters accredited in Turkmenistan, the international observers, as well as heads and journalists of local mass media attended the briefing.
Before announcing the preliminary results of the presidential elections in Turkmenistan, the CEC Chairman briefed the audience on the work carried out to prepare and efficiently conduct the major political event of the year and expressed gratitude to all the stakeholders in the electoral process. Special gratitude went to the foreign guests for their suggestions on improving the electoral process.
It was emphasized that the people of Turkmenistan demonstrated solidarity and unity and made an important step towards the further national development. It was noted that the presidential elections were conducted in a very orderly manner.
Announcing the preliminary results of the presidential elections in Turkmenistan, the Chairman of the Central Election Commission noted that the turnout of voters reached 97.27 per cent, which is evidence of the high civic activity of the population and its sincere desire to become directly involved in the ongoing process of democratic reforms in Turkmenistan. Out of 3 228 866 citizens of the country on the voter list, 3 163 692 citizens voted at 2 587 polling stations, 39 of which were set up abroad at the diplomatic missions of Turkmenistan. According to the initial count of votes, incumbent president of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov scored the largest number of votes - 97.69 percent.
The observer missions from the SCO, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the CIS held final press conferences on the results of the presidential elections in Turkmenistan. The heads of missions noted that the preparation and conduct of the presidential elections in Turkmenistan were held in accordance with the national legislation and standard norms of international law in the field of elections.
According to the international observers, the national electoral legislation has been improved in recent years, as evidenced by the Electoral Code of Turkmenistan, which corresponds to the universally recognized norms of international law in the field of democratic elections. It provided a sufficient legal framework to ensure free and open expression of the will of voters. Speaking about the shortcomings revealed during voting, the heads of missions noted that they were insignificant and mainly technical, not affecting the legitimacy of the elections.
Voicing the observers' general view, the speakers stressed that the presidential campaign in Turkmenistan was conducted in accordance with ethical standards and in an orderly manner. They also noted that the Turkmen people voted for stability, for the policy pursued by the current leadership of Turkmenistan to ensure prosperity of citizens and further growth of the national economy.
Next morning, several heads of state sent messages to President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov with congratulations on his victory in the presidential elections held the day before. In their messages, the colleagues of the Turkmen president expressed confidence in the continuation of the constructive dialogue and fruitful joint work with Turkmenistan and congratulated the head of state on his re-election for the new presidential term.
The first congratulatory telegrams came from Russian President Vladimir Putin; Chinese President Xi Jinping; Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan; Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani; Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev; Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev; Tajik President Emomali Rahmon; Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev; President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev; and Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili.

Alexey TIKHORETSKIY