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Turkey 'cannot wait forever' for a new constitution

Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmus says draft will likely be ready by end of April, urging all parties to participate. Kurtulmus said a referendum would be in order if parliament fails to pass the draft with a supermajority of 367 out of 550 votes.

ANKARA (AVRUPA TIMES)-Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday a new draft constitution will likely be submitted to parliament by the end of April. At a news conference following a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, Kurtulmus said: “This issue is not something that can wait forever. We are planning to bring our draft constitution to maturity and submit it to parliament by the end of April.”

 

Calling drafting a new constitution not only the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s “binding duty” but also “the most important political responsibility of all political parties in the Turkish parliament”, Kurtulmus reiterated his invitation to all parties to contribute to the process of writing a ”democratic, participatory and pluralistic” constitution.

 

“Nobody can run away from this duty. Therefore it is essential that this duty is fulfilled all together,” he said, adding that the AK Party would continue to do its part to come to an agreement with other parties, and to find “common ground”.

 

The Turkish parliamentary committee tasked with planning the new constitution broke up last month after opposition party members walked out of it amid disagreement over the presidential system, which was proposed by the AK Party.

 

Kurtulmus said a referendum would be in order if parliament fails to pass the draft with a supermajority of 367 out of 550 votes.

 

“If not, we will be working to get 330 votes and refer the draft to the electorate’s vote,” he said.

 

There are 550 deputies in parliament, including one independent. AK Party has 317 seats, followed by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) with 133 seats.

 

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have 59 and 40 seats, respectively.

 

The Constitution Conciliation Committee of 12 deputies – three from each of Turkey’s four parliamentary parties – first met on Feb. 3 in a bid to redraw the current constitution, parts of which date back to Turkey’s military regime of the 1980s.

 

Following the dissolution two weeks later, AK Party Deputy Chairman Omer Celik accused the main opposition CHP of sabotaging the process to draft a new charter, while the HDP’s Garo Paylan said the three opposition parties on the committee favor the parliamentary system, which the AK Party wants to swap for a presidential model.

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