The system of government in Turkmenistan is that of a presidential republic. The current Constitution of Turkmenistan was adopted on May 18, 1992 (hereinafter referred to as "the Constitution" or "TC"). Previous constitutions were adopted in the years 1927, 1937 and 1978. The Constitution of 1992 differs significantly to that of its predecessors. Its preamble proclaims the Constitution as the basic law, and further, reflects the revival of the Turkmen State, following its regaining of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 (upon dissolution of the union). Article 1 of the Constitution establishes the status of permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan, citing the recognition of this status given by the United Nations on 12 December 1995. Article 4 of the TC states that the government is based on the principle of separation of powers into legislative, executive and judicial.
Further, Art.4 proclaims that all powers function independently, creating a system of checks and balances. The provisions of the Constitution can be applied directly and any legal acts passed in contradiction to the provisions of the Constitution, will be deemed invalid (Art. 5. TC). Section II of the Constitution embodies basic rights, freedoms and obligations of the person and citizen (Arts. 16 - 44). The Constitution was last changed on 28 December 1999, at which time the Parliament of Turkmenistan (Majilis) approved an amendment allowing the President, Sapamurad Nizayov, to remain in office for life.
The President of Turkmenistan is head of state, the head of the Government and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The powers of the President are extensive and are spelled out in Chapter 3 of the TC. He appoints and leads the Council of Ministers (cabinet). The President must also approve all 50 members of the Parliament (Majilis) and a number of the members of the People's Council (Khalk Maslakhaty). The President also has the right to appoint and dismiss the Ministers of all Ministries, by way of presidential decree, further, the deputies of all Ministers are appointed and dismissed by resolutions of the President. The President also appoints all judges of the Supreme Court of Turkmenistan.
Art. 45 of the Constitution establishes the Khalk Maslakhaty, as the highest representative organ of popular power. This is a unique body, which is in fact composed of representatives of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of authority, as stipulated in Article 48 of the TC. More specifically, the Khalk Maslakhaty is composed of 50 directly elected members (the Khalk Vekillery - People's Representatives), 50 Majilis deputies and a varying number of ex-officio members including, the President, the deputies of Parliament, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of the High Commercial Court, the Prosecutor General, members of the Cabinet of Ministers, heads of regional administrations and chiefs of municipal councils, towns and villages which are in the administrative centres of their respective district. Together, they are responsible for reviewing and deciding upon questions of amendments to the Constitution, the adoption of a new Constitution, the conducting of referenda, altering of state borders and administrative divisions, economic, social and political policies of the state, ratification of treaties, war and peace, as well as a series of other issues delegated by the Constitution and laws. In accordance with Article 54, the People's Council is convened when necessary, (however, not less frequently than once per year) by the President, Parliament of by one-third of the established members of the Council. The ninth session, held on 27-29 December 1999, has been written into history as one of the most pivotal, as it is at this session that the President was granted the exclusive right of holding office for an indefinite term and the death penalty was abolished.
Executive power in Turkmenistan is divided between, first and foremost, the President, and the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), the Ministries and local self-government units. According to Art.75 of the Constitution, the highest level executive authority is the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) chosen and headed by the President. The Cabinet consists of the deputies of the Chairman of Ministries and the ministries. The President has the discretion to nominate any of the leaders of Central State executive bodies to the Cabinet. The President distributes the duties of the Cabinet between the deputies constituting the Heads of the Cabinet. The deputy Heads of the Cabinet are able to pass resolutions within the scope of their mandate, which is outlined in Art.78 of the Constitution. The Cabinet is responsible to the President. The members of the Cabinet are at the same time members of the Khalk Maslakhaty, that is, the People's Council. The work of the Cabinet is carried out in sessions held by the President or one of the deputy Heads of Cabinet, in which matters of policy are discussed and debated. Based on Art. 77 of the TC, the Cabinet issues orders and passes resolutions which have the status of obligatory implementation. The Cabinet is responsible for the coordination and control of the activities of the ministries and other central bodies of the State. Further, their role is to ensure that decrees and acts of the President, as well as the resolutions and orders of the Cabinet are implemented as required.
At the level of Ministries, executive power is exercised by way of orders and resolutions. At present, Ministries, in effect, serve as the link between the highest executive authority, entities and the general public, in the implementation of policies. Ministers are nominated to office by the President, who also has the authority to dismiss each of them. The only exception to this aforementioned presidential prerogative, is the dismissal of the Minister of Internal Affairs or the Minister of Justice, which may only be effected by the President on consent of the Parliament (Majilis). The Ministries are responsible for supervision of the industries for which they are responsible. This supervisory role includes the power of the Ministers to appoint and dismiss heads of enterprises, entities and organizations of an industry operating within the jurisdiction of the responsible Ministry, upon prior consent of the local authorities of the veyalat, etrap and shakhers (administrative units discussed below).
Legislative power is exercised by the Majilis (Parliament) and the Khalk Maslakhaty (the People's Council - described above). The Mejilis is a permanent legislative body, established by Art.62 of the TC. The Parliament consists of the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Presidium, Committees and Commissions and 50 deputies, elected from territorial districts. Deputies of the Parliament are elected for a term of five years and in accordance with the TC (Article 2) they express the will of the people. They are the only authority, which in all spheres, functions on behalf of the people. Jointly with the Khakl Maslajkaty the Mejilis particpiates is the governance and policy creation of the republic. Members of the Mejilis are also members of the Khalk Maslajkaty (see Art.45 of the TC). Parliament convenes in two sessions per year. Legislative initiative in Parliament belongs to the President, the deputies of the Mejilis, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Supreme Court (Art.68 TC), as well as the Working groups and Parliamentary Committees composed of the elected deputies, experts and representatives of state and public bodies. All of these bodies and officials are permitted to make proposals for the adoption of laws and for the drafting of new laws. As established by Art.64, the Parliament may be dissolved by way of referendum, by decree of Parliament adopted by 2/3 of the majority of the fixed number of deputies (self- dissolution). Parliament may also be dissolved by decision of the President in the case where it fails to form parliamentary management bodies (commissions) within six months, or upon its expressing two votes of no confidence in the Cabinet within an eighteen-month period.
The legislative process is initiated by the any of the bodies listed in the preceding paragraph. The power to adopt laws as enforceable belongs to Parliament, by virtue of Art. 67 (1) of the TC and the President, who issues decrees having the force of law (Art. 58 TC).
Turkmenistan is divided into administrative units, which have been given authority of self-government, these are the velayats (large administrative regions encompassing etraps, and specific cities), etraps (districts), shakhers (cities), obas (villages) and gengeshys (main administrative units).
Pursuant to Art. 80 of the Constitution executive authority in a velayat is held by the hyakim (governor), they are the local representatives of the President. Governors are appointed and dismissed by the President for a term of five years. According to Art 81 of the TC, governors are entirely subordinate and responsible to the President. The ambit of their responsibilities largely consists in the supervision of governmental organs at the local level, that is, ensuring their adherence to the Constitution, law and acts of the President and Cabinet of Ministers. The Hyakims may adopt resolutions (Art. 82 TC) that must be implemented within the region for which they are responsible, however, these powers are limited to those matters specifically established by the Law of Turkmenistan on Hyakims, of 24 November 1995. There are also hyakims governing the etraps, having similar powers and answerable also to the President.
In accordance with Art. 85 of the TC, local self-government is organized into units called gengesh, managed by "archins" (Chairperson elected by the members of the gengesh). The gengesh is governed by an organ of members elected by the population of the towns, communities and villages for a term of five years (Art. 85 TC). The elected organ is responsible for identifying the main direction of economic, social and cultural development of the territory, approval of the local budget and report on its implementation, taxes, tariffs and their collection, use of natural resources and other issues ascribed by law. The local organ of the Gengesh may also pass enforceable resolutions and orders, within the scope limited by law.
Judicial power belongs to the courts (Art.99 TC). The court system comprises of the Supreme Court, the High Commercial Court and military and other courts created for civil, administrative, commercial, and criminal legal proceedings. Article 101 proclaims the principle of independence of the judiciary and the sub-ordinance of judges only to the law. Article 102 states that all judges of all courts are appointed by the President for a term of five years. The law determines the jurisdiction, manner of formation and activity of the courts.
The legal system of Turkmenistan is based on a civil law system.
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Annex to the Comments on the Draft Constitution of Turkmenistan (in English)Date : 01 September 2016 English [0.37 MB]
Annex to the Comments on the Draft Constitution of Turkmenistan (in Russian)Date : 01 September 2016 English [0.31 MB]
Comments on the Draft Constitution of Turkmenistan (in English)Date : 01 September 2016 English [0.96 MB]