Turkmenistan Lists Names On Ballot

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan — State media in Turkmenistan have published the names of candidates running in a parliamentary election that authorities are describing as a step toward democracy.

Although only members of the country's single registered political party and a handful of authorized nongovernmental bodies are eligible to run, the vote follows constitutional amendments nominally aimed at boosting the role of lawmakers in the Central Asian country.

The state-run newspaper in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, published background details Thursday of the nine candidates who will run in three of the city's 13 electoral districts. The names of the other candidates are not yet public.

All of the candidates belong to the government-backed Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, a successor to the Soviet-era Communist Party.

Under the changes, the parliament gained the right to modify the constitution and censure the president and is set to almost double in size, from 65 to 125 members. The election is set for Dec. 14.

Turkmenistan has been making tentative moves toward democratic reform since the death of its autocratic leader Saparmurat Niyazov in 2006.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has invited international observers to monitor the Central Asian nation's parliamentary polls, but the United States and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have said they will not be sending full-scale observation missions.