A Standard Model
"Turkmenistan is planning rare amendments to its constitution that signal the leadership's desire to present at least a veneer of change in Central Asia's most isolated country.
"A constitutional commission will draft the changes at the request of the State Commission for Constitutional Reforms, which is headed by President Gurbanguly Burdymukhammedov.
"Expected amendments include lengthening the presidential term and otherwise enhancing the already-powerful presidency, as well as scrapping a rubberstamp superlegislature known as the Halk Maslahaty (People's Council) in favor of a more transparent but long-marginalized parliament, the Mejlis.
"The overhaul could make Turkmenistan's political landscape less inscrutable for the country's 5 million residents and foreigners alike, but most observers are likely to withhold judgment until the particulars are in place."