Human rights groups have criticised the outcome of parliamentary elections in Turkmenistan which have been won overwhelmingly by parties supportive of President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.
They say the authorities only paid lip service to genuine reform in one of the most repressive countries in the world.
But Turkmen officials say that the country is becoming more democratic.
The vote, in early December, was contested by more than one party for the first time in the country’s history.
But rights groups say the polls in the gas-rich Central Asian state were marked by a total lack of any opposition to President Berdymukhamedov.
The governing Democratic Party took 47 of the 125 seats in parliament, while the newly-formed Party of Industrialists – also sympathetic to the president – took 14 seats, state media said on Thursday. Turnout was a colossal 91.33%.
The remaining seats were taken by representatives of trade unions, women’s groups, young people’s organisations and religious groups who are all staunchly pro-government.
Turkmenistan is a Muslim-majority country of 5.5 million people.
A very closed country to the gospel, pray for God to use these elections, and the reactions to them to open up space for his word to be heard. And pray for God to be at work in supernatural ways to break into the lives of people in this land