Turkey to call general election

Prime minister says fresh general elections can solve political impasse.

    The AK party is still backing Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister, as its presidential candidate [AFP]
    Senior members of the AK party had called for national elections to be brought forward from November to June 24 in order to resolve a stand-off with the country's military.
     
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    "Bringing forward the general election will reduce uncertainty," Bulent Arinc, a senior AK Party member and parliamentary speaker, told a news conference on Wednesday.
     
    "[The decision] will meet our people's expectation for trust and stability."
     
    The AKP appeared to be hoping that its success in promoting economic growth and pushing down inflation would see it returned to power with a renewed and strengthened mandate.
     
    Erdogan also said that he was considering changing the constitution to enable the president to be elected directly by a popular vote.
     
    Presidential elections
     
    Also on Wednesday, Turkey's parliament ratified a timetable for electing a president that was put forward by the country's ruling Justice and Development party (AK party).
     
    MPs from the 550-seat parliament will vote on Sunday in the first of four rounds of voting that will culminate in the election of a new president, parliament ruled on Wednesday.
     
    The decision to hold a re-run of the first round of voting came a day after the Constitutional Court ruled that a similar vote held last week was invalid because not enough members of parliament had been present.
     
    Senior members of the army threatened on Friday to intervene in politics if the AK party moved to dismantle or weaken the country's secular constitution.
     
    Constitutional crisis
     
    Parliament held the first of four rounds of vote to elect a new president last Friday.
     
    Abdullah Gul, the AK party candidate, won the largest share of the vote but failed to achieve the required quorum after opposition parties boycotted the vote and failed to put forward their own candidate.
     
    The opposition parties - mainly composed of secularist, pro-army parties - then argued that the vote was invalid and appealed to the country's constitutional court to consider ordering a re-run.
     
    On Tuesday, the court ruled in the favour of the opposition parties and said that the vote must be repeated.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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