ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Turkmenistan’s autocratic president has put his only son in charge of the Central Asian nation's energy sector, further expanding his clout in a move seen as laying the foundations for a political dynasty.
Speaking at a meeting with officials, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov told his son, Serdar, whom he previously appointed deputy prime minister in charge of economic and financial issues, to also oversee the energy complex, the government daily Neutral Turkmenistan reported Thursday.
Berdymukhamedov, 64, presides over the government and doesn’t have a prime minister, meaning that his 40-year-old son answers directly to him.
The president’s son, who had previously served as a regional governor, a Cabinet minister and held other senior positions, is widely viewed as being groomed to succeed his father, who has established a pervasive cult of personality since becoming Turkmenistan’s leader in 2006.
Turkmenistan’s economy is overwhelmingly dependent on exports of its vast natural gas reserves.
China is the main export market for Turkmen gas, and the country ships smaller amounts to Russia. The Central Asian nation also has been working to build a pipeline that would pump gas to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Berdymukhamedov instructed his son to intensify efforts to sign more gas export contracts.