Turkish parliament begins debating constitutional change

Ankara, Jan 11 (IANS) The Turkish Grand National Assembly on Tuesday began debating constitutional change which would grant wide-ranging powers to the president, a media report said.

As many as 338 of the assembly’s 550 lawmakers voted in favour of the motion to launch the debate on 18 constitutional articles, which was drafted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Xinhua cited state-run Anadolu Agency as saying.

The opening debate saw lawmakers discuss the proposal as a whole as well as the separate articles. A second session will address proposed amendments to the bill.

During the discussions, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that “the regulations outlined in the offer would solve the problems that Turkey will face in the future.”

The AKP has been seeking to replace the current parliamentary system with a presidential one, saying there are flaws in the system that are holding back Turkey’s development.

The government plans to put the amendments to a public referendum after the parliament’s approval.

To reach a referendum, the proposed amendment must first be passed by 330 deputies. If it gets the support of 367 lawmakers, it could pass into law without a referendum, although the ruling AKP has said it will hold a popular vote regardless.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu slammed a constitutional amendment, which promises drastic changes to the executive system by ushering in an executive presidency, saying lawmakers who say “yes” to the amendment will be betraying the public, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

–IANS

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