President, PM slam Turkish main opposition for criticizing arrests of HDP deputies

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Both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım have harshly slammed the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for its recent criticism of the arrest of the co-leaders and 10 lawmakers of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on terrorism charges. 

A statement by the CHP following a party assembly meeting over the weekend, which called the arrests “unconstitutional” and called for the release of arrested Cumhuriyet journalists, was targeted by both Erdoğan and Yıldırım.

“Attacking the president, the prime minister by releasing statements does not befit any politician. Now they ask why the issue has gone to the judiciary. What else should have happened? Everyone should know their place,” Erdoğan said during an opening ceremony in Ankara on Nov. 8.

“Those who betray this nation and those who attempt lawyering terrorists should pay for it, they should be held accountable for it,” he said.

“The main opposition party unfortunately blames the [presidential] palace and the ruling party for aiding and abetting DEASH and other terror organizations,” Erdoğan said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“What kind of a main opposition are they?” he asked.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chair Abdülhamit Gül announced that the party has filed a legal complaint against CHP’s statement. Erdoğan also filed a complaint, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Yıldırım mocked the CHP statement in his weekly addressing to party deputies on Nov. 8.

“Their statement is the exact example of a lack of political foresight. What is this? Vileness! This looks like the boycott statements that university students read after every lesson,” he said.

The prime minister also questioned why the main opposition gathered a party assembly following the arrests of the MPs but not after terror attacks.

“What happened that made you cancel your weekend programs and are holding a meeting?” he asked.

Yıldırım also claimed that the CHP cannot come into power for the next 60 years if it holds on to its current understanding.

“Now these [HDP] deputies are saying that they are halting legislative activities. The people have told you to stop terrorist activities, the unlawful ones, but you misunderstood that. You did not even understand the people,” Yıldırım said.

Yıldırım also called on European countries to step up their fight against the PKK.

“I am calling our European friends to stop bothering themselves with Turkey’s legal processes and focus on fighting the PKK and drug-runners who poison your youth and future,” Yıldırım said.

“The main target of drugs is Europe and the young people of Europe,” the prime minister said, adding that in Turkey, the PKK reaps around $2 billion annually from drug dealing.


Gov’t is to finalize constitution draft this week

The government is planning to meet with political parties this week in a bid to finalize a constitutional draft that includes a shift to an executive presidential system, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has vowed.

“We are taking another step about the constitutional change. This week we will round up meetings with political parties and put [a constitutional draft] into a final form,” Yıldırım said on Nov. 8 in his weekly address to the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group.

“With the constitutional amendment and the changes we will make to the regime, Turkey will bury into history its era of coalitions, God willing. There will be no more coalitions. There will always be a single, strong political will. A strong political will is a must for the survival, unity, and togetherness of Turkey,” he added.
The government accelerated its efforts to finalize the constitutional draft after Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on Oct. 11 proposed to hold a referendum that allows the Turkish people to decide whether the country should shift to a presidential system. His proposal stemmed from his criticism of the government for violating the constitution by ruling the country with a de facto presidential system.
His proposal was welcomed by AKP members and Prime Minister Yıldırım vowed to submit the party’s own charter draft to the parliament soon.

Although Bahçeli’s earlier proposal was interpreted as covert support for a parliamentary vote for constitutional changes, he later said on Oct. 25 that the MHP would decide on its stance after evaluating the AKP’s draft.

“The AKP should bring what they prepared and we will see and evaluate it. Afterward, we will act based on what we see is right and will solidly stand behind our decision,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş then said on Oct. 30 that the AKP has prepared two constitutional drafts, but would not publish them unless a majority in a parliamentary vote is guaranteed.

“We will listen to what they will say, and then we will act. We won’t act unless we are sure that parliament will secure 330 votes,” Kurtulmuş said.

“We will initiate matters after we see that it will pass,” he added.

With 316 seats in parliament, the AKP is at least 14 votes short of introducing a constitutional amendment, as any charter change requires the support of at least 330 votes in order to take it to a referendum.

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