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Turkey Sets April 16 for Key Constitutional Referendum | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during his meeting with mukhtars at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, February 8, 2017. Yasin Bulbul/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday has approved a constitutional reform bill paving the way for an executive presidential system – a referendum on the issue was expected in mid-April, a senior government minister said.

“With the president’s approval, eyes are now on the YSK (High Election Board), which might announce that April 16 is the appropriate date for a referendum,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters.

Parliament in January approved a new 18-article constitution to create an executive presidency along the lines of that in U.S. and France.

Erdogan says the reform will bring back stability at a time of turmoil, as it would enable the president to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and top state officials and dissolve parliament.

The post of prime minister will be replaced with one or more vice presidents.

The parliamentary debate on the changes prompted violent scuffles, with the assembly witnessing fractious fighting.

The bill would allow for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held at the same time, with the draft giving November 3, 2019 as the date of the next ballot.