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Turkmen president's son likely to succeed father in election

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By Reuters

ASHGABAT -Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s son, Serdar, is poised to win Saturday’s snap presidential election and succeed his father as the ruler of a gas-rich Central Asian nation of six million.

President Berdymukhamedov, in power since 2007, called the vote last month, saying he wanted to give way to a new generation of leaders and the ruling Democratic party quickly nominated his son.

Serdar Berdymukhamedov, 40, who has already been elevated to the No.2 position in the country as a deputy prime minister, is running against eight other candidates, some of whom are virtually unknown low-level public servants.

An engineer and a diplomat by education, he has swiftly risen through government ranks, and local media refer to him as “the son of the nation,” while his 64-year-old father is known as Arkadag, or Protector.

The outgoing president has said he would remain the speaker of the upper house of parliament after handing over the presidency.

Over 86% of voters had cast their ballots by 15 p.m. local time (1000 GMT), the Central Election Commission said.

“There is hope that the country will become more modern, will look forward rather than back,” Oraz, a 30-year-old logistics company employee, said after voting.

Results of the vote are due to be announced on Sunday.

Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic bordering Iran and Afghanistan, sits on the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves and exports gas by pipelines to China and Russia.