Turkey to sub­mit Er­do­gan pow­ers bill to par­lia­ment

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

IS­TAN­BUL: Turkey’s rul­ing party is to sub­mit a bill to par­lia­ment yes­ter­day ex­pand­ing the pow­ers of Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, a move sup­port­ers be­lieve will stream­line the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem but op­po­nents fear will lead to one-man rule. The con­sti­tu­tional change, which has been sought by Er­do­gan since he be­came pres­i­dent in 2014, would see Turkey switch to an ex­ec­u­tive pres­i­dency along the lines of the United States or France.

But it has be­come the lat­est po­lar­iz­ing issue sur­round­ing the Turk­ish strong­man, who has been ac­cused by op­po­nents of in­creas­ingly au­thor­i­tar­ian rule es­pe­cially af­ter the at­tempted coup in July. The drive for the change comes at a crit­i­cal time for Er­do­gan, with the re­lent­less crack­down af­ter the coup strain­ing ties with the West and the Turk­ish lira un­der se­vere pres­sure.

“Our pro­posal to change the con­sti­tu­tion will be sub­mit­ted to the Turk­ish par­lia­ment to­mor­row,” Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim said on Fri­day. The an­nounce­ment fol­lowed months of talks be­tween the rul­ing Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment Party (AKP) led by Yildirim and the Na­tion­al­ist Move­ment Party (MHP). The MHP is the fourth largest party in par­lia­ment but the AKP needs its sup­port for the 330 votes re­quired to call a ref­er­en­dum on the issue.

‘In­sta­bil­ity re­moved’

Yildirim said the bill would “save our coun­try” from coups af­ter Er­do­gan saw off a putsch aimed at oust­ing him from power on July 15. Turkey had on three pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions since 1960 seen gov­ern­ments di­rectly ousted by the mil­i­tary, which con­sid­ers it­self the guardian of sec­u­lar Turkey. “We con­tinue to work on chang­ing the sys­tem to en­sure in­sta­bil­ity is re­moved from Turkey’s po­lit­i­cal his­tory ab­so­lutely,” Yildirim said.

The AKP has only 316 seats (ex­clud­ing the speaker of the par­lia­ment) and needs at least 14 votes from the MHP to se­cure a three-fifths ma­jor­ity re­quired to call the ref­er­en­dum. Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Nuret­tin Canikli told broad­caster A Haber that “con­sen­sus had been se­cured” be­tween the MHP and AKP and a ref­er­en­dum could take place in March, April or May. The main op­po­si­tion Repub­li­can Peo­ple’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kur­dish Peo­ples’ Demo­cratic Party (HDP) ve­he­mently op­pose chang­ing the par­lia­men­tary sys­tem. HDP co-leader Se­la­hat­tin Demir­tas, who made it a po­lit­i­cal cru­sade to op­pose the new sys­tem, is cur­rently un­der ar­rest on charges of ter­ror group links along with nine fel­low HDP MPs.

— AP

ANKARA: Turkey’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan ad­dresses lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tors.

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