World Bulletin/ News desk
The Turkish president on Saturday defended the major constitutional changes that will be submitted to Turkish citizens in a referendum in April.
Speaking at a symposium on presidential system in Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the change “will not be an ordinary event”. “The essence of the presidential system is that the administration is given to the Turkish people, directly. That's the truth. The president [...] has to keep an eye on the public because he is responsible to the citizenry at his every step,” he said.
Erdogan said he was fighting for the new system, not himself, adding the Turkish nation would have the last word. Constitutional reform has been discussed since Erdogan was voted in as president in August 2014.
The 18-article bill was passed by parliament in January, with 339 votes in favor -- nine more than needed to put the proposals to a referendum. If passed, the proposals would hand wide-ranging executive powers to the president.
'The most correct sollution'
During his speech, Erdogan denied allegations of wanting to render parliament ineffectual. “What do they say without being embarrassed? ‘Parliament will be destroyed; there will be no parliament, no legislative body',” he said.
“The issue is not a democracy issue or freedom issue, certainly. The system that we are discussing is the most appropriate solution for Turkey and the Turkish people's longstanding problems that have been going on for centuries. This is the question,” he added.
On Friday Erdogan approved the bill which sets the date for a referendum on widespread changes to the country’s constitution. The chairman of Turkey’s Supreme Board of Elections also officially announced on Saturday that the upcoming referendum on major constitutional changes will be held on April 16.
Changes to the constitution include the suppression of the prime minister post and the stipulation that the president will be allowed to retain ties to a political party. The minimum age for parliamentary candidates will be reduced to 18 and the number of lawmakers will rise to 600. Simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections for a five-year term would be held in November 2019.Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Şubat 2017, 23:00