Serdar Berdymukhamedov, son of the President of Turkmenistan, “elected” and succeeds his father

The succession of a leader in such authoritarian regimes is always a thorny issue in the Central Asian republics where the Soviet model remains steadfast. The regime and the clans around it absolutely want to retain control of power, influence, and wealth, but that is not without tensions, often internally.

A few years ago, his ally Shavkat Mirzizhev was succeeded by the dictator of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, but gradually he pushed the Karimov family aside. A somewhat similar picture was seen recently in Kazakhstan, where President Nursultan Nazarbayev handed power to current leader Kassym Zumart Tokayev in 2019. At the beginning of this year, a popular uprising was suppressed, but it exposed tensions within the elite. Since then, the Nazarbayev family has also lost much of its influence.

Succession within the family is somewhat rare. It was successful in 2003 in the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan in the Caucasus – also a gas field – when the current leader Ilham Aliyev succeeded his father Heydar Aliyev. He, too, comes from a family of Soviet-era party officials.

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Denton Watson

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