Turkmen President Stepping Down As Party Leader

Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov says he is stepping down as leader of the ruling party to promote a multiparty system.

Berdymukhammedov told a party conference on August 17 that, in a multiparty system, "the president of a country should not be a member of any party."

Berdymukhammedov has led the Democratic Party since 2006, taking over after the death of Saparmurat Niyazov, his predecessor as president and party leader. 

Formerly the Turkmen branch of the Soviet Communist Party, it was the country's only party for two decades.

Last year, a new law authorized the creation of a new political party called the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

The Democratic Party has some 190,000 members, the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs around 2,000.

Both parties are set to contest parliamentary elections in December.