First Published: 2017-01-12

Turkey lawmakers brawl in session to bolster Erdogan powers
Fists fly in tense parliamentary session as lawmakers in Ankara approve three more articles in bill to create executive presidency, bolstering Erdogan’s powers.
Middle East Online

Five of 18 articles so far approved

ANKARA - Turkish lawmakers on Thursday approved three more articles in a hugely controversial bill bolstering the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as lawmakers brawled and threw objects in a session of high tension.

Lawmakers have since the start of the week been debating the first reading of the 18-article bill to change the constitution to create an executive presidency.

The articles approved covered lowering the minimum age limit of members of parliament from 25 to 18, stipulating parliamentary elections be held every five years, instead of four, and on the parliament's own powers.

Five of the 18 articles have now been approved with the three-fifths majority required for the new constitution to be submitted to a referendum expected in April.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has mustered sufficient votes in an alliance with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

But the changes are vehemently opposed by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), whose lawmakers boycotted the vote.

The two readings are expected to take two weeks, with parliament working without a break.

A brawl erupted in the chamber as the voting took place in an overnight session, with lawmakers punching each another and chairs being thrown, television pictures showed.

Dozens of lawmakers crowded around the speaker's rostrum with one MP held in a chokehold and another kicked in the shins.

"I am proud of my CHP deputies who showed resistance despite all the attacks from the AKP which is desperate to knock down the seat of the nation's will," the CHP faction's deputy chairman Ozgur Ozel said.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) also boycotted the vote in protest at the arrest of its two co-leaders and several other MPs over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

While critics say the move is part of a power grab by Erdogan for a one-man rule, supporters say it will put Turkey in line with France and the US and is needed for efficient government.

Under the proposed changes, there would no longer be a formal cabinet but there will be ministers, whom the president will have the power to appoint and fire.

Along with a slew of terror attacks, the political uncertainty has been one of the factors pressuring the Turkish lira, which has slid 18 percent against the dollar over the last three months.

 

UN eyes new Western Sahara talks after Polisario pullback

UK warns of ‘increased level of terrorist activity’

Merkel warns EU-Turkey ties 'severely hit' by Ankara developments

Pope Francis leads mass in Egypt

420 tonnes of plastic bags seized in year in Morocco since ban

Erdogan says Turkey, US can turn Raqa into 'graveyard'

Hamas to amend controversial charter

Turkish authorities block access to Wikipedia

President of European rights group censured for Assad meeting

Pope Francis flies to Egypt as 'pilgrim of peace'

Palestinians protest to support prisoners on hunger strike

Turkish army, Syrian Kurdish militia in new clashes

Erdogan to rejoin Turkey ruling party next week

Germany urges EU not to break off Turkey accession talks

OPCW says chemical weapons allegedly used 45 times in Syria

Netanyahu slams German foreign minster as 'insensitive'

Erdogan hopes for 'new page' with US under Trump

UN Security Council calls for Polisario pullback from Guerguerat

UN envoy to Libya to visit Sudan for peace talks

Tunisian PM booed out of town hall meet

Russian spy ship sinks off Turkish coast

London police arrest ‘terror act’ knifeman by parliament

Palestinians strike in support of protesting prisoners

Two Saudi soldiers killed in rocket attack near Yemen border

German soldier plots attack under refugee disguise

Iraq forces retake town of Hatra from IS

Syria accuses Israel of strike near Damascus airport

10 dead after strikes on rebel-held hospitals in Syria

Turkey’s AKP to hold special congress readmitting Erdogan

EU reviews Libya request for naval equipment

Jail terms over death of Moroccan fishmonger

UN appoints Syrian Olympic swimmer as ambassador

Bahraini activist on hunger strike behind bars

Calls on Saudi social media for jobless protest

Tunisian coastguards no match for high-speed smugglers

US wants 'strong, democratic' Turkey: ambassador

Israeli tank trades shots with Hamas in Gaza

Syria says France 'hiding truth' about chemical attack

NATO chief warns Turkey to respect ‘rule of law’

Exiled Turkish journalist urges EU to confront Erdogan

Mass funeral for dozens slain in Syria bus attack

Qatar insists Baghdad had ‘full knowledge’ of hostage deal

UN eyes new Yemen peace talks

Erdogan resumes Gulen arrests after referendum win

Turkey opposition heads to European court to challenge referendum