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Ever wonder what it means to be an MP?

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Turkmenistan legislation consists of a unicameral parliament called Mejlis. Turkmen MPs are called Mejlismen. Mejlis is a legislative representative body of 125 members elected every 5 years. Currently, the Mejlis of the 5th convocation serves its first year.

This might not be a discovery for some, but many believe that being a Mejlismen means having a full time job in the parliament. Surprisingly, this is not the case. Only 35 members of Mejlis work in Ashgabat in the modern building of the Parliament. They serve on specialized committees who organize adoption of the laws and codes, cooperate with the ministries and agencies. The rest continue their jobs and lives in their respective constituencies.

For example, a doctor from the Serdar etrap (Balkan veleayat), which is also an electoral constituency, is elected as a Mejlismen. While she continues working as a doctor in her town, she also visits parliamentary sessions several times a year and works on adoption of the laws and codes. She doesn't receive any financial compensation for the Mejlis services that she provides and continues receive the salary of the doctor. In addition to being a doctor, she now has the responsibility to receive people and take down their suggestions, complaints and needs, and address them through Mejlis channels which she obtains access to after becoming a Mejlismen.

Therefore, being a Mejlismen is a title and a status of the local trustworthy individual who serves for the public well-being and communicates the needs and suggestions of the people of Turkmenistan to the authorities. Mejlismen is in power to initiate a change based on the requests from the people, national ministries and agencies.

When the new law is adopted, it is the responsibility of the Mejlismen to explain to the people and all affected parties how the new law or a code should be interpreted, where it is applied and who is affected. For that, Mejlismen organize TV programmes and visit various institutions, where they give talks and hold discussions. They also visit their constituencies to talk to people, collect their questions and responses about the new laws.

Now those who stay in Ashgabat, work with their electorate too. They collect questions, concerns and respond to them using the resources available to them. When a new law is initiated, Mejlismen organize a working group to draft it. Sometimes, it take up to a year to receive the approval of the relevant agencies and ministries to start the process of law making. Then, Mejlismen together with technical specialists and experts hold special meetings, consultations and discussions. They also involve technical assistance from such projects as UNDP's who employ national experts on local issues. Experts help draft new laws and codes and after careful consideration and multiple revisions, Mejlismen adopt those laws. One of the recently adopted ones is the Law on Pastures that was developed in cooperation with the project and many stakeholders, including Ministry of Nature Protection. Currently, with technical assistance of UNDP, Mejlismen work on the amendment of the Water Code.

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