Turkmen President Berdymukhammedov Sworn In

Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has been sworn in for a third seven-year term as Turkmenistan's president.

At the inauguration ceremony in Ashgabat on February 17, the authoritarian leader placed his right hand on the country's constitution and took the presidential oath of office.

Berdymukhammedov, 59, secured a third in office by winning 97.69 percent of the vote in the February 12 election.

The Central Election Commission announced that more than 97 percent of eligible voters had turned out. But RFE/RL correspondents saw only a trickle of voters at several polling stations in the capital, Ashgabat.

Berdymukhammedov maintains strict control over all aspects of society and was all but guaranteed to defeat the other eight candidates, who were widely seen as window-dressing for the vote.

No parliamentary or presidential election held in Turkmenistan has been deemed free or fair by international monitors since the country gained independence in the 1991 Soviet collapse.

Based on reports by Turkmenistan.gov.tm and Interfax