We don’t need another coup leader, main opposition CHP tells Turkish PM Erdoğan
“We do not need a new Kenan Evren,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said. AA PhotoTurkey’s main opposition has strongly objected to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s conjecture that the current Constitution grants “executive power” to the president to be elected in August via popular vote, just as the 1982 Constitution granted “executive power” to coup leader Kenan Evren.
“We do not need a new Kenan Evren,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters on April 17, when asked about Erdoğan’s reported suggestions.
Evren led the Sept. 12, 1980, military coup d’état, which ushered in a period of torture and execution, largely against the left. As the chief of the General Staff, he became the “natural chairman” of the transitional National Security Council (MGK), thus “the head of the state” as of Sept. 12, 1980.
Later, Evren became president as a consequence of a referendum on the new Constitution and the presidency, but not by a constitutional procedure. The current 1982 Constitution is a legacy of the Sept. 12, 1980 coup.
“If I step into the [Çankaya Presidential Palace], I will be the people’s president. I will use my full constitutional powers,” Erdoğan reportedly told his lawmakers at a meeting at the Justice and Development Party (AKP) headquarters on April 16 during which he took the pulse of his parliamentary group in his bid to create a road map for the August presidential elections.
Erdoğan said the president would effectively become the executive office because its occupier will be elected by popular vote. “The system has changed. There won’t be any interregnum, because that would be the executive office. Meanwhile, we have many friends that could become prime minister,” he said.
Taking the floor after Erdoğan, AKP deputy parliamentary group chair Nurettin Canikli reportedly attempted to clarify the prime minister’s remarks on “system change.”
“The powers that were granted to the president by the 1982 Constitution are sufficient for the president, who will be elected by a popular vote [in August] because this Constitution already granted extensive powers to Kenan Evren. When these powers are used by the president who is elected by people, then it leads to a partisan-president system,” Canikli reportedly said, referring to a system in which the president-elect, if a member of a party, does not have to sever his relations with his political organization.
Evren, 96, and the then-commander of the Air Force, 89-year-old Tahsin Şahinkaya, have been on trial since April 2012 due to their roles in the infamous coup, which is associated with a crackdown on political freedom, mass arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings.
Not in anybody’s pocket
“Of course, nobody should consider the presidency to be in his pocket. In the end, it will be the people’s decision and we will all respect the people’s decision,” Kılıçdaroğlu also said on April 17, when reminded of earlier remarks on the same issue by President Abdullah Gül.
On April 16, in response to a reporter’s question, Gül said his and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s plans to consult with each other about the upcoming presidential elections should not be misinterpreted.
“There is no doubt that there will always be other candidates and people will eventually make their decision in the elections. Nobody is saying that ‘This [presidency] is in my pocket,” Gül said.