Incoming Turkish PM vows to work on new constitution

Incoming Turkish PM vows to work on new constitution

Binali Yildirim says ruling party’s most important task is to usher in presidential system

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey’s new incoming prime minister vowed Tuesday to immediately work on a new constitution, which will include the framework for a presidential system.

“The most important task of the [Justice and Development] AK Party [parliamentary] group is to better fit the constitution with the actual state of the elected president’s relationship to the people”, AK Party chairman Binali Yildirim said.

Yildirim was speaking at the first AK Party parliamentary group meeting in Ankara, since being elected its chairman on Sunday, and announcing a new government on Tuesday.

“This is not just the matter of our president; this issue is the future of the Republic of Turkey," he said.

He vowed to immediately start working to change Turkey’s current constitution, which came into effect two years after a military coup in 1980.

“I’m asking my people, what will a president who has received the votes of 21.5 million citizens do; he has a responsibility to the people.”

He said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was determined to make the state’s institutions work in harmony.

Yildirim recalled that, for the first time in the Republic’s history, the president had been elected with the votes of millions of citizens.

“Even if some do not accept that reality, all over the world, everybody knows and accepts that,” he said.

The issue of a presidential system has been topical in Turkey for the past two years. Turkey is currently governed under a parliamentary system but in August 2014, Turkish citizens, for the first time, directly elected the country’s president.

The ruling AK Party does not have enough seats in parliament to vote for a constitutional change nor to send the country to a referendum for constitutional changes.

But Yildirim called on other political parties to work together for the new constitution.

So far, not one of the three Turkish opposition parties represented in parliament has expressed support for a change in favor of a presidential system.

The country's current constitution was drafted two years after a military takeover in 1980 and numerous amendments have been made to it since then.

Yildirim said Turkey could not reach the 2023 (centennial of the Republic) objectives with the 1980 constitution.

“This garment does not fit this body,” he said, in reference to the parliamentary system and Turkey.

Earlier on Tuesday, Yildirim announced Turkey’s 65th government, which is now awaiting a confidence vote in parliament due to take place later this week.

The 65th government is set to hold its first meeting on Wednesday under the chairmanship of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential complex in Ankara.

- Fight against PKK terrorist organization and parallel state

Prime Minister Yildirim also vowed to “rescue Turkey from terrorism trouble” referring to the PKK terrorist organization.

He said that anti-terror operations in the country would continue, “until the bloody terror organization’s armed attacks against our citizens come to an end, until the bloody terror organization’s armed attacks against our security forces stop”.

He went on to say that operations would continue until the life and property of the citizens was guaranteed and the weapons in the hands of terrorists were totally eliminated.

The anti-terror operations have been ongoing in several of Turkey’s southeastern provinces.

The PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU – resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015.

Since then, more than 460 members of the security forces, including troops, police officers, and village guards, have been martyred, and over 4,500 PKK terrorists killed in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq.

Separately, Yildirim also vowed that the fight against the “parallel state” would continue, “by making no concessions”.

What is known in Turkey as the “parallel state” represents a clandestine group of bureaucrats and senior officials, allegedly embedded in the country’s institutions, including the judiciary and the police, and accused of trying to overthrow the government.

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