[JURIST] The government of Turkmenistan [CIA backgrounder] published a law defining the president's powers and duties for the first time in Turkmenistani history Wednesday. The law, printed in the official state newspaper, gives the president the power to appoint the Cabinet and leaders of the armed forces. With the approval of the legislative Halk Maslahaty [Wikipedia backgrounder], the president can also appoint the the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the interior minister, and the prosecutor general. The law also stipulates that presidents may be only removed by the legislative Mejlis [Wikipedia backgrounder], which is effectively controlled by the president as its supreme leader. The publication may be an effort by President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov [BBC profile] to demonstrate greater accountability than predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov [BBC profile], an authoritarian leader who encouraged a cult of personality during over 20 years in power.
In March, Turkmenistan, which gained its independence upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, was cited in an annual report [text; JURIST report] by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) [official website] for having widespread judicial interference, using torture, and suppressing political opposition, media, and civil society. The Democratic Party of Turkmenistan (DPT), which was previously called the Communist Party of the Turkmen SSR, is the ruling and only legal political party in Turkmenistan. AP has more.