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Turkish Parliament Discusses Constitutional Amendments amid Opposition | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish lawmakers attend a debate at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, May 20, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Ankara-The Turkish Parliament has kicked off discussions on the constitutional amendments proposed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) supported by the Nationalist Movement Party.

The proposed amendments include replacing the current Parliamentary system with a presidential system, which expands the powers of the president and provides him with all the cabinet’s jurisdictions.

These discussions come amid protests by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and some civil society associations.

Police used teargas and pepper spray and fired water cannon to disperse protesters who crowded around the parliament in Ankara.

The legislature is expected to adopt the proposed amendments with the AKP’s majority (317 voices) supported by around 14 voices from the Nationalist Movement Party.

In a statement prior to the parliamentary session on Monday, the Deputy Prime Minister said the referendum of the constitutional amendments is set to take place in the first week of April and that the ongoing discussions in the parliament should conclude in 18-20 days.

These new amendments will allow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stay in office until 2029; his current presidential rule will end before the amendment expected in 2019; then, Erdogan has the right to run for two additional presidential five-year terms.

The new amendments will omit the law that forces the President on cutting his relations with the political party he belongs to; according to these amendments, the President will also be allowed to appoint more than one deputy.

However, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) opposes the suggested amendments, saying they will turn Turkey to a one-party system and eliminate balance of power.

On the other hand, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu hoped U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will not repeat Barak Obama’s mistakes in Turkey.

He said Ankara expects from Trump to hand over Fethullah Gulen – who is accused of masterminding the failed coup in July – along with suspending cooperation with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units in Syria.