Turkmenistan sets presidential election for 2017

Turkmenistan's parliament has set the date for a presidential election in which opposition parties can field candidates for the first time.

But the election set for Feb. 12 is unlikely to present real competition for autocratic President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who has ruled for a decade and established a personality cult nearly as pervasive as that of his eccentric predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov.

The parliament's decision was reported by state media on Sunday. It comes a month after the constitution was changed to remove age limits for the presidency, effectively allowing Berdymukhamedov to be president for life.

In 2012, Turkmenistan authorized nominally opposition parties, but the two that will be allowed to run presidential candidates are seen as subservient to the ruling party.