ASHGABAT, Sept 14 Turkmenistan amended its
constitution on Wednesday in a way that will allow President
Kerbanguly Berdymukhamedov to stay in power indefinitely,
following in the footsteps of his predecessor, who ruled the
gas-rich Central Asian nation until his death.
Amendments approved by the council of elders and the
parliament - and immediately signed by Berdymukhamedov - remove
the 70-year age limit for presidential candidates and extend the
presidential term to seven years from five.
The age limit was the only legal barrier that would have
eventually prevented the 59-year-old authoritarian ruler from
running and winning one vote after another. Berdymukhamedov's
current, second term ends in 2017.
He has run the isolated desert nation of five million since
his predecessor, President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov, died in
2006. Berdymukhamedov has focused on diversifying the export
routes for natural gas, Turkmenistan's main source of income.
(Reporting by Marat Gurt; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by