Turkmenistan to allow president to serve indefinitely

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The authoritarian former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan is set to amend its Constitution to allow the president to run for office indefinitely, allowing him in effect to rule the country for life.

The proposed changes, published in the government newspaper on Monday, will extend presidential terms from five to seven years and scrap the 70-year age limit for candidates.

The energy-rich Central Asian nation has previous experience of leaders for life. The late and eccentric Saparmurat Niyazov was named lifetime president of Turkmenistan in 1999. He died in 2006.

Niyazov's successor, 58-year-old Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, will still technically have to run for office, although that is a formality since no rivals to his rule are tolerated in his deeply isolated nation.