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Turkey constitution vote scheduled
Referendum set for October, after boycott of ruling party's presidential candidate.
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2007 16:52 GMT
The AKP seeks changes after its candidate, Abdullah Gul, failed to get elected to the presidency [AFP]
A referendum on changes to Turkey's constitution, which include the election of the president by a popular vote, has been schduled for October 21, the country's electoral council has said.
 
The referendum will not affect parliament's selection in August of the successor to Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Turkey's outgoing president.
The constitutional changes were proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), after the election of Abdullah Gul, foreign minister and AKP presidential candidate, was blocked.

The political opposition had insisted that Gul was not truly committed to Turkey's secular system, boycotting two sessions of parliament in April and May.

The boycott prevented the house from having the necessary quorum required to hold a presidential vote.

As tensions increased over Gul's candidacy, the army warned that it was set to defend the secular order, and mass anti-government demonstrations were held across Turkey.

Amendments

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, called early general elections on July 22, in which the AKP won a landslide victory.

The new parliament, which due to open on Saturday, is expected to elect a successor to Sezer by the end of August.

Sezer has remained acting head of state since his seven-year term expired in May.

The government had planned to hold the referendum simultaneously with the July 22 elections, but legal issues delayed the approval of the package.

The constitutional amendments also call for a once-renewable, five-year presidential mandate instead of a single, seven-year term, and general elections every four years instead of five.

Source:
Agencies
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