Turkmenistan's president has fired the head of the oil and gas sector that accounts for over 90 % of the isolated country's exports, state media reported April 6, 2017.
The Central Asian country's state-controlled Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper said Yashigeldy Kakayev, who was deputy prime minister in charge of the oil and gas complex, was set to be demoted.
The newspaper cited President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov as complaining of shortcomings in supervision of the sector on the part of Kakayev, who took the job in 2015 after holding several other high profile energy-related positions in the state over the last 2 decades.
But Berdymukhamedov pledged to use [Kakayev's] experience" to help prepare new projects to deliver gas from the country's vast Galkynysh natural gas deposit, the paper said.
Maksat Babayev, who headed the country's state energy champion Turkmengaz, will now take over one of the most important positions in a country where Berdymukhamedov is both president and head of the cabinet.
Turkmenistan, a country of more than 5 million people bordering Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, has been under economic strain since natural gas prices began a long slump in 2014.
Last year Berdymukhamedov signed off on constitutional changes increasing presidential terms from 5 to 7 years and stripping away the upper age limit for candidates.
Critics say the changes pave the way for his lifelong rule in a country that gained a reputation as one of the most repressive in the world under predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov who died in 2006.