by WorldTribune Staff, December 11, 2016
Following a coup attempt in July that some analysts said appeared to have been “orchestrated,” Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has submitted constitutional changes to parliament that would significantly expand the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The AKP’s proposal received 316 supporting signatures from the 550-seat assembly.
If cleared by a constitutional committee and approved by parliament, the reforms would pave the way for a referendum on granting Erdogan full executive powers and, critics say, allow him to rule unchecked.
“This is a regime change, plain and simple: one-man rule,” lawmaker Seyit Torun of the Republican People’s Party was quoted as saying.
Related: Time for NATO to wake up and smell the coffee; Moscow was the winner in coup drama, July 24, 2016.
The constitutional changes pushed by the AKP would allow the president to appoint the government, retain ties with his party, propose budgets and declare states of emergency.
The amendments were proposed by the AKP with agreement from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
AKP Secretary General Abdulhamit Gul said the bill reflected “a national agreement, a proposition based on Turkey’s needs and experience of government, proposed by two parties.”
The bill, according to media reports, proposes a local election for March 2019, a presidential election and a general election for November 2019, and concentrated executive powers in the hands of the president.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters that “the final decision will be given by the nation. We are starting a process that will bring strong political power that also comes with stability.”
Meanwhile, Kurdish militants have claimed responsibility for a Dec. 10 terror attack at a football stadium in Istanbul which killed at least 38 people and wounded 160 others.
At least 13 people have been arrested over the twin bombing which was carried out by militant group TAK, also known as the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons.
Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmuş, said the attack was “clearly planned.”
Officials confirmed 30 police officers, seven civilians and an unidentified person were killed.