Turkmenistan's 91% voter turnout

Elections in Turkmenistan have for the first time featured a challenger to the ruling Democratic Party.

A Turkmenistan woman casts her ballot at a polling station

Turkmenistan reported near-unanimous turnout of 91.3% for the state's first multi-party elections. (AAP)

Turkmenistan has reported near-unanimous turnout of 91.3 per cent in the reclusive Central Asian state's first multi-party elections, which still featured no opposition to trouble the dominance of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

Nearly three million voters in the natural gas-rich former Soviet nation on Sunday chose 125 candidates for the seats in the Majlis, or parliament, for the next five years.

Challenging the ruling Democratic Party of Turkmenistan is the Party of Industrialists and Businessmen of Turkmenistan, founded in August 2012 as a political alternative but still seen as pro-Berdymukhamedov.

The election was the first in the country monitored by a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which visited polling stations on Sunday.

However both the assembly and the human rights office (ODIHR) of the European security body said they would not issue a report before February.

Speaking on the eve of the election, Berdymukhamedov, known locally as "Arkadag" or "Protector", said the polls would "demonstrate the extent of developing democracy and civil society in our country".

But there was no sign of genuine dissent in the election campaigns. Almost all opposition groups are based abroad, and their leaders fear arrest if they return to Turkmenistan.

2 min read
Published 16 December 2013 at 4:48am
Source: AAP