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Turkmen president promotes son to role of industry minister

ASHGABAT, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov named his son Serdar as minister of industry and construction on Saturday, the gas-rich Central Asian nation's state news agency reported.

His promotion comes less than a year after Serdar Berdymukhamedov, 38, assumed the post of a provincial governor. His rapid rise has prompted talk that the 62-year-old autocratic president is preparing him as a successor.

In his new job, as in his previous one, Serdar Berdymukhamedov is likely to oversee the ambitious project of building a new capital from scratch for the central Ahal province, which he used to head.

President Berdymukhamedov this week signed a decree allocating $1.47 billion for imports of construction materials, equipment and other items needed for the new city, an unusual move amid widespread foreign exchange shortages. (Reporting by Marat Gurt Writing by Olzhas Auyezov Editing by Alexander Smith)