World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey's main secularist opposition CHP party will file a suit with the Constitutional Court on Friday to halt a constitutional reform bill sponsored by the ruling AK Party, a CHP official said.
The move by the Republican People's Party (CHP) comes after the president on Wednesday approved the bill, opening the way for a referendum on reforms.
The secularist-oriented Constitutional Court has annulled other AK Party reforms in the past and reform of the court itself is central to the bill approved by parliament last week.
An executive of the party told Anadolu news agency, that CHP would submit a petition to Turkey's Constitutional Court on Friday asking cancellation of the amendment law.
Uncertainty over Turkey's politics rose earlier this week following the resignation of the CHP leader, the veteran Deniz Baykal, following the release of a videotape on the Internet purporting to show him and a woman in a bedroom. Baykal accused the government of involvement in a conspiracy to bring him down.
The opposition CHP, which has 97 deputies in parliament, will need 110 signatures from MPs in order to launch the court appeal to block the referendum.
The country's electoral commission is expected to announce soon when a referendum on the reforms will be held and is holding a meeting a 2 pm (1100 GMT), a Turkish TV said.
AK Party officials said they expected the referendum to be held in mid-July.
"According to us the period for a referendum is 60 days. The day on which a referendum will be held is July 18, 2010," AK Party group deputy chairman Mustafa Elitas told reporters.
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), and closure of political parties.
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.
The main opposition party is sceptical of the law as it fears it would erode the independence of the judiciary.
CHP also argues that with 26 articles put to vote as a package, rises the question of non-separability of preferences of voters, as they are expected to vote "yes" or "no" to the whole package. It criticises the voting of the package as a whole arguing that all articles should be put to vote separately.
Second opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) accuses the government of attempting to politicize the judiciary and subordinate the judiciary to the executive branch.
However, the ruling Justice & Development (AK) Party denies accusations and argues that the law aims at making Turkey more democratic in line with EU's expectations.
The AK Party has said it is confident it will achieve enough support in the public vote.