World Bulletin / News Desk
A referendum will be held in Turkey on September 12 on a constitutional reform bill sponsored by the ruling AK Party, Turkey's electoral body said on Thursday, a date late than the government expected.
The reforms, approved by the president on Wednesday after they passed through parliament last week, are facing a court challenge by the main secularist opposition Republican People's Party who see the changes as an AK Party bid to consolidate its power.
Earlier, AK Party officials has 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.
Deputy Chairman of Turkey's Higher Board of Elections (YSK) Kirdar Ozsoylu said Thursday the referendum on Constitutional amendments recently adopted by the Turkish Parliament will take place on Sunday, September 12, 2010.
Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Ozsoylu said that the YSK's decision to hold the referendum on September 12 was taken by unanimity.
Based on the former elections law, a referendum has to take place within 120 days after the adoption of the relevant law on amendments at the Turkish Parliament. A new arrangement at the Turkish Parliament reduced the number of days in which a referendum must take place to 60 day. However, changes in elections laws could not be implemented within one year as of the date of change, Ozsoylu said.
A committee will work to organize the referendum, Ozsoylu also said.
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.