Turkey president calls referendum
Ahmet Necdet Sezer opts for vote on plans to publicly elect the head of state.
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2007 12:07 GMT
The ruling AKP party introduced the reform plan after opposition to the election of Abdullah Gul [AFP]
Turkey's president has called a referendum on plans to for the head of state to be elected directly by the public rather than by parliament.

The office of Ahmet Necdet Sezer said in a statement that he would also ask the constitutional court to rule on objections he has regarding the reforms, without elaborating.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) introduced the reform plans after opponents stopped Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister, from being elected president by the parliament.

Parliament is dominated by the AKP, an Islamist-rooted party led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister.

The crisis has forced Erdogan to bring forward a parliamentary election to July 22.


Direct election


Erdogan says allowing the Turkish people to directly elect the president will bolster Turkish democracy.


The reform plans also envisage replacing the current single seven-year presidential mandate for once-renewable five-year term.


Critics say the move will be to the detriment of a system of checks and balances in Turkey's constitution.


Sezer, a secularist critic of the government, had two options on the reform plan - to sign them into law or to call a referendum on them.


He vetoed the plans in May but cannot do so a second time.


The constitutional court is expected to rule next week on an appeal from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) that would annul the government's reforms.


If the court does annul the reforms, the referendum will no longer be required.

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