Turk­ish com­mit­tee clears draft ex­pand­ing Er­do­gan’s pow­ers

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

ANKARA:

A Turk­ish par­lia­men­tary com­mis­sion yes­ter­day cleared a set of draft con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments that would greatly ex­pand the pow­ers of Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan. The con­sti­tu­tional com­mis­sion ap­proved the re­forms at the end of a 17-hour ses­sion that lasted into the early hours of Fri­day, open­ing the way for de­lib­er­a­tions and a vote in the full as­sem­bly in Jan­uary, with a pos­si­ble ref­er­en­dum in the spring.

The pro­pos­als would turn the largely cer­e­mo­nial pres­i­dency into one where the pres­i­dent en­joys full ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers. Er­do­gan, who was prime min­is­ter be­fore be­com­ing pres­i­dent in 2014, has long ad­vo­cated a pres­i­den­tial sys­tem, ar­gu­ing it would give the head of state flex­i­bil­ity to make Turkey one of the top 10 pow­ers in the world by 2023, when the Turk­ish Repub­lic marks its cen­te­nary.

Crit­ics fear the pro­pos­als would al­low Er­do­gan, who is in­creas­ingly ac­cused of au­thor­i­tar­ian be­hav­ior, to rule with lim­ited checks and bal­ances. The draft amend­ments were ap­proved fol­low­ing 10 days of tense de­bate that at times re­sulted in al­ter­ca­tions be­tween the rul­ing party and main op­po­si­tion party mem­bers on the com­mit­tee.

The 21 ar­ti­cles that were ini­tially sub­mit­ted to the com­mit­tee were re­duced to 18, over some ob­jec­tions by rul­ing­party leg­is­la­tors. “This is the great­est demo­cratic move in the his­tory of the (Turk­ish) repub­lic,” said Re­sat Petek, a leg­is­la­tor from the rul­ing Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment Party, or AKP, fol­low­ing the com­mit­tee’s vote. The main op­po­si­tion party, the Repub­li­can Peo­ples’ Party, CHP, said the draft amend­ments amount to a “regime change.”

“It is a con­sti­tu­tion that will de­stroy the cen­tury-old gains of the demo­cratic repub­lic,” said CHP leg­is­la­tor Bu­lent Tez­can. “It is a con­sti­tu­tion that will cre­ate a tyran­ni­cal state.” The amend­ments were pro­posed by the AKP with the newly won sup­port of the Na­tion­al­ist Move­ment Party, or MHP. The na­tion­al­ist party was ex­pected to back the amend­ments in the gen­eral as­sem­bly as well. Er­do­gan en­joys pop­u­lar­ity and has ral­lied sup­port fol­low­ing a failed mil­i­tary coup blamed on a move­ment led by USbased Mus­lim cleric Fethul­lah Gulen. The changes would al­low the pres­i­dent to ap­point the gov­ern­ment, re­tain ties with his party, pro­pose bud­gets and de­clare states of emer­gency. They would also al­low Er­do­gan to serve a fur­ther two terms, end­ing in 2029. Other pro­posed amend­ments would in­crease the num­ber of seats in the 550-mem­ber par­lia­ment to 600, re­duce the min­i­mum age of leg­is­la­tors from 25 to 18 and set par­lia­men­tary and pres­i­den­tial elec­tions on the same day. The changes come at a tu­mul­tuous time for Turkey, which has been rocked by a wave of bomb­ings, re­newed con­flict with Kur­dish rebels in the south­east, and the failed coup at­tempt. `— AP

ANKARA: File photo shows Turkey’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan speaks dur­ing an award cer­e­mony in Ankara, Turkey. A Turk­ish par­lia­men­tary com­mis­sion yes­ter­day cleared a set of draft con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments that would greatly ex­pand the pow­ers of Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan. — AP

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