Turkmenistan president’s son promoted to key government job

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan — Turkmenistan’s autocratic president has promoted his only son to a key government post, a development seen as laying the foundation for a political dynasty in the energy-rich Central Asian nation.

The appointment of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s son, Serdar, as deputy prime minister in charge of economic and financial issues was announced Saturday in the government’s daily Neutral Turkmenistan.

Berdymukhamedov, 64, presides over the government and doesn’t have a prime minister, meaning that his son would answer directly to him.

Earlier this year, the president named his 39-year-old son deputy prime minister in charge of innovative technologies — the position now abolished by the new presidential decree.

The president’s son, who had previously served as a regional governor, a Cabinet minister and held other senior positions, is widely viewed as being groomed to succeed his father, who has established a pervasive cult of personality since becoming Turkmenistan’s leader in 2006.

Turkmenistan’s economy is overwhelmingly dependent on exports of its vast natural gas reserves.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting, the Turkmen president voiced discontent over a drop in hard currency revenues resulting from a slump in energy prices. He instructed his son to step up efforts to secure international loans for investment projects and work more actively to privatize some of the state assets, boost exports and encourage domestic production to reduce imports.