Turkish opposition asks top court to halt reforms

The Higher Board of Elections decided that a referendum would take place on September 12 on the reforms and relevant amendments.

Turkish opposition asks top court to halt reforms

Turkey's main secularist opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) filed an application with the Constitutional Court on Friday for the cancellation of the law on amendments to several articles of the Constitution.

Earlier this week 71-year-old CHP leader Deniz Baykal quit, saying he was the victim of a government conspiracy to blacken his name. A video purporting to show him in a bedroom with a female colleague had been posted on the Internet.

On Thursday, Erdogan's hopes of holding the referendum in July were dashed, when the electoral commission set the vote for September 12, coincidentally the 30th anniversary of a military coup.

The application was signed by 97 CHP deputies, 7 independent deputies, 6 deputies from the Democratic Left Party (DSP) and 1 deputy from the Democrat Party (DP).

The CHP strongly refused the proposed reforms of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, which included changes on the structure of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).

Turkish President Abdullah Gul approved the Constitutional amendments on Wednesday and his decision was published in the Official Gazette on Thursday, the day when referendum process began officially.

The YSK's decision will be valid if the Constitutional Court does not cancel the reform package.

On May 7, Turkish Parliament adopted the constitutional amendment bill in the final voting of the package as a whole.

The package, except for the rejected article 8th on the closure of political parties and a related provisional article, was adopted by 336 votes in favor and 72 against.

The law is set to be put to referendum in line with the Turkish constitution because it received votes more than 330 but less than 367.

The package brings amendments to the structure of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).

It abolishes the provisional article 15 of the constitution which does not allow trial of the members of the National Security Council formed after the military coup in 1980.

The law also abolishes the ban on right to general strike; paves the way for a citizen to become a member of more than one union, and the civil servants and other public officials the right to collective bargaining.

It paves the way for trial of parliament speaker, chief of general staff, and senior commanders by the High Tribunal on charges of crimes they commit regarding their positions.

There was no clear indication when the Constitutional Court might rule. In the past, it has annulled other AK Party reforms and the reform of the court itself is central to the bill.

Some analysts have said that a decision by the court to annul the referendum could precipitate an early election.

But Erdogan said before leaving for a visit to Greece on Friday that a snap vote was out of the question.

Most of the proposed amendments are not contested, as there is broad consensus in Turkey of a need to change a charter drafted after a 1980 military coup.

The controversy is centred on the reform of the judiciary, a bastion of Turkey's secularist elite.


Agencies

Last Mod: 14 Mayıs 2010, 14:09
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