05/01/2012, 00.00
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Ankara preparing new constitution with less power in the hands of the military

A multiparty parliamentary committee is set to draft a constitutional proposal with input from civil society groups. Erdogan threatens a referendum if the new charter is not adopted by parliament before the end of the year.

Istanbul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A parliamentary committee in Turkey is due to start work on the country's first fully civilian constitution. The new, more democratic charter will replace the existing one, which was drawn up 30 years ago.

The old constitution gave great powers to the military, curbed individual rights and largely ignored the country's minorities, including the Kurds.

The multi-party committee is expected to complete its draft proposal by the end of the year. To that end, there have been meetings across Turkey with civil society groups encouraged to contribute their views.

The new constitution should also open the way to the legal recognition of non-Muslim minorities like the Catholic Church.

Before taking this step, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (pictured) changed the top leaders of the armed forces and has had charges brought against military leaders accused of preparing a coup.

If a consensus on the constitution proves impossible in parliament, Mr Erdogan has threatened to push the issue through by means of a referendum.

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