[JURIST] The 2500-member People's Council of Turkmenistan Friday adopted a new constitution for Turkmenistan [official website; CIA backgrounder] envisioning a new multi-party political process and providing for limits on presidential power two years after the death of longtime autocrat Saparmurat Niyazov [BBC profile]. Turkmen leaders are hopeful that the changes in the country's charter would encourage investment in the Central Asian state, a leading regional producer of natural gas. Included in the new constitution are provisions for a five-year presidential term and a 125-seat elected legislature. Parliamentary elections are expected in December. BBC News has more.
Turkmenistan gained its independence upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Last year it was cited [JURIST report] by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) [advocacy website] for widespread interference in judicial affairs, 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.