World

Turkmenistan mulls proposals to broaden presidential rule, opening way for leadership for life

People gather for the monument unveiling ceremony in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan Monday, May 25, 2015. The isolated energy-rich Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan has unveiled a gold-leafed statue of the president in a gesture intended to burnish the leader's burgeoning cult of personality. The 21-meter monument presented to the public Monday consists of a statue of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov atop a horse mounted on a towering pile of marble. (AP Photo/Alexander Vershinin)

People gather for the monument unveiling ceremony in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan Monday, May 25, 2015. The isolated energy-rich Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan has unveiled a gold-leafed statue of the president in a gesture intended to burnish the leader's burgeoning cult of personality. The 21-meter monument presented to the public Monday consists of a statue of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov atop a horse mounted on a towering pile of marble. (AP Photo/Alexander Vershinin)  (The Associated Press)

Legislators in the authoritarian Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan are considering scrapping the 70-year age limit at which a president can serve, enabling the incumbent to serve for life.

State media on Friday cited parliament speaker Akdzha Nurberdyeva as saying a constitutional commission may also extend the presidential terms by two years, to seven years.

Both provisions will boost the already-substantial grip over power wielded by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, 57.

Berdymukhamedov, a dentist by training, came to power after the sudden death in 2006 of his eccentric predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov.

Although initially seen as a possible reformer, Berdymukhamedov has paid little heed to calls for his energy-rich country to boost democratic freedoms. Instead, he is now presiding over an increasingly extravagant cult of personality aimed at legitimizing his rule.