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Serdar Berdymukhamedov, 40-year old son of Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, in a file photo. Image Credit: AP

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: The son of Turkmenistan’s leader, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, won the presidential election, officials said Tuesday.

Serdar Berdymukhamedov, 40, won the ballot held last Saturday with 73 per cent of the vote, the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) said in a statement on its website.

Nine candidates stood in the poll in the country of six million people, but few doubted that Berdymukhamedov’s only son Serdar - who has pledged to pursue his father’s course - would take over the country’s top job.

Last month Berdymukhamedov said he would step aside and allow “young leaders” to govern, triggering a snap vote.

In the end Berdymukhamedov junior obtained a victory margin far lower than the 98- and 97-per cent routs posted by his 64-year-old father in the hermit state’s previous two elections.

No change to neutrality

One thing that is unlikely to change is the republic’s neutral status in international affairs.

Serdar Berdymukhamedov told journalists last Saturday that status would remain if he won because it “allows Turkmenistan to develop fully-fledged relations with all states”.

The country that honours its leaders with ostentatious gold statues remains strongly dependent on China, which dominates purchases of its natural gas.

The now-confirmed father-son leadership transition will be the first of its kind in Central Asia, a former communist region that also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The younger Berdymukhamedov’s inauguration is scheduled for next Saturday.