Gurbungali Berdymukhamedov wins Turkmen presidential vote
Turkmenistan`s Gurbungali Berdymukhamedov was inaugurated on Wednesday as president of the Central Asian nation after sweeping the presidential election.
Berdymukhamedov, who was named acting president following the death of President Saparmurat Niyazov on Dec. 21, won Sunday`s election with 89 percent of the vote, Central Election Commission Chairman Murad Karriyev told a session of the People`s Assembly, the country`s top legislative body.
He was immediately sworn in after the annoucement.
Speaking to nearly 2,500 members of the People`s Assembly, Berdymukhamedov pledged to continue Niyazov`s policy and maintain the country`s neutrality.
"I will draw support from the people and unswervingly observe the constitution and follow the path laid by the first president," he said.
Turkmenistan will honor its international commitments and continue exporting energy to other countries, he said.
Turkmenistan has huge natural gas and oil reserves and is the top gas exporter in the region.
Berdymukhammedov said social benefits to citizens will be ensured and schools will switch back to 10-year mandatory education.
Present at the inauguration were many foreign leaders including Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.
A military parade followed the ceremony.
Lying north of Afghanistan and Iran, the nation of 5 million people became independent with the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991. - Xinhua