Serdar Berdimuhamedov secured 73 percent of the votes, far ahead of the nearest of his nine rivals, according to results announced by the Central Election Commission.

Serdar Berdimuhamedov vowed to “work for the people of our country, based on the heritage and principles of our ancestors, our country”.
Serdar Berdimuhamedov vowed to “work for the people of our country, based on the heritage and principles of our ancestors, our country”. (AP)

The son of Turkmenistan's leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has won a decisive victory in the country’s presidential elections.

Serdar Berdimuhamedov, 40, won the ballot held on Saturday with 73 percent of the vote, the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) said on Tuesday in a statement on its website.

Nine candidates stood in the poll in the country of six million people, but few doubted that Berdimuhamedov's only son Serdar - who has pledged to continue his father's course - would take over the country's top job and pave the way to hereditary succession.

His nearest rival in the field of nine candidates was university official Khyrdyr Nunnayev, who won 11 percent.

Serdar Berdimuhamedov has risen through a series of increasingly prominent government posts and most recently has served as the country’s deputy prime minister, answering directly to his father. He recently turned 40, the minimum age for president according to the Turkmen law.

“My main goal is to continue on the glorious path of development built during 30 years of independence and to successfully implement programs aimed at ensuring a high level of social conditions for the people,” Serdar Berdimuhamedov said while presenting his platform in a televised speech.

Speaking to reporters after casting his ballot, he vowed to continue the country’s neutral foreign policy if elected.

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Turkmenistan’s 'protector'

Berdimuhamedov senior, who is now Turkmenistan's outgoing president, chair of the cabinet and senate chief, has been the regime's top decision-maker for the last 15 years.

Known as the gas-rich country's "protector", he has dominated public life since the country's founding president Saparmurat Niyazov died in 2006.

The country has long been difficult for outsiders to enter, and has not reported a single case of infection in the coronavirus pandemic. It also has struggled to diversify its economy, overwhelmingly dependent on vast natural gas reserves.

Last month Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said he would step aside and allow "young leaders" to govern, triggering the snap vote.

Under his rule, China replaced Russia as the main buyer for Turkmenistan’s vast gas reserves.

During the campaign, all candidates praised Berdimuhamedov’s father, who said he will retain the post of the head of the country’s upper house of parliament.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies