11/22/2013, 00.00
TURKEY
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Turkey says goodbye to Erdogan's constitutional reforms

by NAT da Polis
The commission set up to draft amendments to the constitution is set to be dissolved due to major differences among Turkish parties, especially over issues such as the recognition of Kurdish rights and the transformation of Turkey into a presidential republic.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The Constitution Conciliation Commission set up by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reform the Turkish Constitution failed to agree on changes to the constitution and will thus be dissolved, said Ahmed Iyiyama, a committee member for the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Now "It will be hard to draft a new constitution before new elections" in 2015, he added.

Iyiyama's statement confirms what Grand National Assembly Speaker Cemil Cicek said last week when he expressed his willingness to dissolve the committee.

Since 2011, the commission, in which four parties (AKP, CHP, MHP and BD) are represented, has tried to agree on changes to the constitution imposed by the military after a coup in 1980. Since it came into effect, the constitution has been changed several times.

Prime Minister Erdogan wanted to have a new draft proposal accepted before presidential and municipal elections in March and August of next year.

However, strong differences among the parties, especially on issues such as the recognition of the rights of the Kurdish minority and the transformation of Turkey into a presidential republic, led to a deadlock.

A two-third majority is needed to change the current constitution. Erdogan's AKP holds only a 326 majority in the 549 parliament, not enough to change the document.

The opposition has accused Erdogan of seeking the presidency in 2014, when for the first time Turks will directly elect their president, and of trying to impose a constitution to his liking.

Under the current constitution, the Turkish President has mostly a ceremonial function.

Finally, it should be noted that Erdogan, who was elected prime minister in 2003 and easily re-elected in 2007 and 2011, cannot run for office again in 2015 because of AKP internal rules, which ban more than three terms.

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