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Turkmenistan's president drafts new constitution that could let him serve for life

If the parliament of Turkmenistan approves a new constitution later this year, President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov could stay in power for a long, long time.

Currently in Turkmenistan, there's no limit on the number of terms a president can serve, but candidates cannot be older than 70. Under the new constitution — drafted by a commission led by Berdymukhamedov — presidential terms would be extended from five years to seven, and the age ceiling would be removed. The parliament is expected to pass this new constitution, Reuters reports.

Berdymukhamedov, 58, is serving his second term as president, after being re-elected in 2012. He is referred to as "Arkadag" by state media, meaning "protector," and like his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, there is a gilded statue of him in the capital, Ashgabat. Niyazov ruled as president for life until he died in 2006, and had the official title of Turkmenbashi — leader of all Turkmens.