Turkey faces new election timetable

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan calls for general elections to solve political impasse.

    The AKP party said that Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister, was still their presidential candidate [AFP]

    The move came as senior members of the AKP said they might call for national elections to be brought forward from November to June 24 in order to resolve a stand-off with the country's military.
    "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.
    The head of the country's electoral board responded by proposing holding the general election on July 22. A final decision on a date will be taken by parliament - probably on Thursday. 
    Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister and head of the AKP, meanwhile said that he was considering changing the constitution to enable the president to be elected directly by a popular vote.
    Senior members of the army threatened on Friday to intervene in politics if the AKP moved to dismantle or weaken the country's secular constitution.
    Constitutional crisis
    Parliament held a first of four rounds of vote to elect a new president last Friday.
    Abdullah Gul, the AKP 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 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.
    AKP anger
    Senior members of the AKP reacted angrily to the court's decision but said they would abide by its ruling.
    "The way to elect the president in Parliament has been blocked," Tayyip Erdogan, the AKP prime minister told his MPs on Wednesday.
    "It has made it almost impossible for the Parliament to elect a president in the future. This is a bullet fired at democracy."
    He also said that Abdullah Gul would remain the AKP's presidential candidate.
    According to the new voting timetable laid down by parliament on Tuesday, the second round of parliamentary votes is scheduled for May 9.
    The third round is set for May 12 and the fourth and final round for May 15.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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