Change of government in Turkmenistan

THE deputy prime minister of Turkmenistan has been replaced by the president as the country changes its strategy on gas exports.

Deputy prime minister Baimurad Khojamukhamedov oversaw the country's fuel and energy complex. He was said to have stepped down for health reasons.

Turkmenistan, central Asia's top gas producer, is offering natural gas from the world's fourth-largest reserves to consumers in Europe, China and Iran as it seeks new markets beyond its main customer, Russia.

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President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has named Yagshigeldy Kakayev, head of state agency for hydrocarbon resources, to temporarily take over the role.

The president reprimanded the deputy premier recently for "unsatisfactory performance" in plant construction.

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