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Turkmen anthem set for makeover

8 December 08 19:06 GMT

The government of Turkmenistan is to amend the country's national anthem to remove repeated references to the late president, Saparmurat Niyazov.

The anthem refers four times to Turkmenbashi - a name meaning Father of all Turkmen - that was used by Mr Niyazov before his death in 2006.

It also refers to the state as a "creation of the great Turkmenbashi."

An official said the changes were necessary to bring the anthem into line with international standards.

The chairwoman of parliament, Akdzha Nurbadyeva, also said the changes were "necessitated by numerous appeals from the country's citizens".

The new anthem is to be introduced after 21 December, the second anniversary of Mr Niyazov's death.

Personality cult

This is another goodbye to the legacy of the late Turkmenbashi, the BBC's Rayhan Demytrie in Central Asia says.

Mr Niyazov's successor, President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, has introduced tentative reforms aimed at eroding the personality cult.

He has eased rules on the use of the internet and begun to open the country to foreign investment.

Under President Niyazov, sounds of the old anthem could be heard every morning and night on national television, schools and in other public places.

He also renamed months and days in the calendar after himself and his family, and ordered statues of himself to be erected throughout the desert nation. Cities, an airport and a meteorite were also given his name.

Since his death from a heart attack in 2006, his portraits have disappeared.

But observers with access to this closed nation say new portraits of the current president have replaced them, our correspondent says.

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