Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) executive board meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, was held yesterday and lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Following the meeting, the party’s vice-chair and spokesperson Yasin Aktay, spoke to Turkish media and said the group had evaluated the upcoming constitutional referendum and criticised Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu on his recent comments about the new constitution.
“The CHP had the opportunity to be a part of the constitution bill when it was still at parliament but it didn’t use this and is now criticising from outside.”
Aktay accused the CHP of trying to block what he said was “a democratic process agreed on by the AKP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP),” by using “illegal and anti-democratic means such as the occupation of the lectern and voting cabins in parliament.”
Responding to Kilicdaroglu’s comments that the constitution had been “imposed on the people,” Aktay said, “the draft bill was backed by 339 lawmakers and will now go to a public referendum. The fact that he sees it as an imposition shows his own wary approach to democracy. Mr Kilicdaroglu needs to learn how to respect parliament.”
Aktay also dismissed claims the new constitution would erode all checks and balances and concentrate power in the hands of current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“The separation of powers and judicial independence will be even stronger than in the current constitution.”
The AKP spokesperson finished his statement saying they were proud of the level of democracy in the country and had empowered the people to vote for their future.
Turkey’s proposed constitutional reform has come under harsh criticism both inside out outside the country. Detractors have said the 18-article change, which does away with the prime ministerial position, will concentrate legislative, administrative and judicial power in the hands of the president.
Commentators have also said the current climate and state of emergency in the country is not suitable for a referendum as more than a hundred thousand people have been imprisoned or purged, including journalists, academics, opposition politicians and public sector workers since last July’s failed coup attempt.
Turkey is expected to go to a referndum in early April.