Erdogan: Constitution change led to presidential poll

PM says presidential August 10 polls are no longer controversial after Turkish people voted to choose president.

Erdogan: Constitution change led to presidential poll

The Turkish people will able to choose their president for the first time in August because of the changes the government has made to the constitution, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

Speaking at the inauguration of a tunnel boring process at a Eurasia Tunnel Project ceremony in Istanbul on Saturday, Erdogan said the presidential elections to be held on August 10 were going ahead as a consequence of the constitutional referendum held in 2007.

He said that, after years of controversy over the previous system whereby the Turkish parliament chose the country's president, the "presidential elections are no longer a problem, after the constitutional amendment we pioneered".

He maintained that his government had overcome disputes surrounding the presidential elections by preserving politics, law and democracy.

The August polls mark the first time that Turkish citizens will be able to choose their president by direct vote.

Popular vote

In a constitutional referendum in 2007, more than two-thirds of Turkish voters voted in favor of electing the president by popular vote instead of by parliament, decreasing the presidential term from seven years to five and allowing the president to run for a second term.

The presidential elections will be held in two rounds, the first on August 10 and the second on August 24.

A candidate who achieves 51 percent of votes in the first round will be directly elected. If no candidate receives the required 51 per cent in the first round, a run-off will be held on August 24.

- Twitter block and Egypt death sentences

During his speech, Erdogan also touched upon the 528 death sentences handed out by an Egyptian court to members of the Muslim Brotherhood in March.

"The movement in Egypt that resulted in a military coup and thousands of dead people started on social media by abusing the concept of freedom. It also ended up with thousands of others having their freedoms restricted. Now we are faced with 528 death sentences," he said.

Erdogan criticized the absence of any "voice" of European Union member countries "where the death penalty is banned" over the sentences.

"They set the world on fire when the 'Twitter issue' occurred [in Turkey]. This Twitter issue is our attitude towards a U.S. company that tries to meddle in our domestic politics and also into my business and that of my ministers through tax fraud, although it has no offices in Turkey," he said.

Turkey and Twitter have recently been in conflict due to the popular micro blogging site's failure to implement Turkish court decisions ordering the removal of certain web links on the grounds of privacy violations. 

'Democratic struggle'

Twitter's unwillingness to act in accordance with the rule of law led the country's telecoms regulator, TIB, blocking access to the site last month for two weeks.

The block was followed by an ongoing ban on video-sharing site YouTube, saying the companies had not complied with Turkish court decisions ordering the removal of certain social media content that had led to human rights violations, including against Erdogan and his family.

Erdogan said that no respect should be shown for people who kept silent in face of the death sentences in Egypt, unless they respected the will of the Egyptian people at the ballot box.

He said the issue represented "a democratic struggle for human rights and fundamental rights and freedoms".

He said neither the United States nor any other country had raised any proper opposition to the death sentences nor spoken out against them. 

"Is human life that cheap? Are these 528 people murderers? Why don't you make remark on the death penalty given to these people, ranging from the elderly to girls, who have been striving to protect the result they gained at polls?" he asked.


Last Mod: 20 Nisan 2014, 10:12
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