Turkey: Erdogan proposes bringing in new constitution

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On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed bringing in new constitution for the country. He raised the need for a new and “civilian” constitution. During his televised speech Erdogan said that Ankara’s last two constitutions — which were brought in enforcement in 1961 and 1982 — carried “indelible” traces of the “military tutelage”. He said that because the earlier constitutions got drafted after military coup both the times, hence the country needed a ‘civilian’ constitution

“Perhaps the time has come for Turkey to debate a new constitution,” Erdogan said. “This work must be conducted in front of the people and through the participation of all of their representatives in a transparent manner, and the text that emerges must be presented to the people for their approval.” He added, “No matter how much we change, it is not possible to erase the signs of coup and tutelage that have been inserted into the spirit of the constitution.” He expressed his disappointment with the existing constitution and stressed that previous such attempts had foundered over the main opposition’s “uncompromising stance”.

Turkish Premier’s proposal to draft a new constitution, was announced following his cabinet meet. He added that he would discussion the proposed option with his party’s nationalist allies.“If we reach a common understanding … with our partners, we could take action for a new constitution in the period ahead,” he said. Many observers saw it as another shot by the ruling AKP’s leader at claiming more powers. Four years ago the country witnessed a similar transition which amplified the powers of its state head as Turkey moved from parliamentary system to an executive presidential system.

The move, which was carried out through referendum in 2018, invited strong backlash from opposition parties, as it amended several provisions of the exiting 1982 Constitution. The critics said that the demand for new constitution emerged after MHP leader Devlet Bahceli suggested introducing constitutional changes to ban the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) to keep in check its separatist tendencies. Many saw it as an move to a move to silence six million votes. “Work on a constitution is not something that can be done under the shadow of groups linked to the terrorist organisation (PKK) with people whose mental and emotional ties to their country are broken,” Erdogan said.

Besides, many rights group and western powers also slammed Erdogan’s new plan, which they believed would blend Turkish democratic political system into authoritarianism regime, posing direct threat to the rule of law, Separately, Erdogan gloated over the country’s newly acquired ability to launch a microsatellites. He said that the facility would enable Turkey in sending domestic and foreign satellites. He said, “God willing, at a not so distant date, we will be launching into space the satellites of our country and those of our friends from our own facility”

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