AKP bridges cracks on match-fixing bill

AKP bridges cracks on match-fixing bill

AKP bridges cracks on match-fixing bill

President Abdullah Gül, whose veto on a bill reducing jail term for match-fixers stirs row with the ruling party, defends his decision and says he used his authorization. Hürriyet photo

Senior members of the ruling party have announced plans to back a controversial match-fixing law despite initial internal opposition amid denials by President Abdullah Gül that there is a conflict between himself and the government.

The Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) decision is in line with the party leadership’s efforts to bridge a rift that shook the government in the absence of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan due to health reasons.

“I will act in line with my party. Do not seek anything else behind this,” Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı told reporters yesterday in a U-turn from his earlier stance. Yazıcı earlier defended Gül’s decision last week to veto the law reducing penalties for match fixers and signaled that he would vote against the bill if it were returned to Parliament without changes.

“We are backing the law. We will all vote for it at the General Assembly. We have no different view,” he said hours before Parliament’s Justice Commission was set to meet to discuss the vetoed law.
Gül said yesterday before his departure for Austria that the veto decision and ensuring events should not be misinterpreted.

“I used my authorization and send the law back to Parliament; my views on the law are known by the public,” Gül told reporters at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport. “The laws are made in Parliament, which will use its authority and the democratic process will continue.”

Gül said he would make a decision after Parliament approves the law again.

The bill is expected to be directly sent to the General Assembly with the support of the opposition parties for ratification Dec. 11. Gül, who has no authority to reject the law, will have to sign it but does have the right to take it to the Constitutional Court, an authority he has never used since becoming president in 2007.

The law would reduce penalties for those convicted of match fixing from five to 12 years in jail to just one to three years.

Like Yazıcı, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ also said the AKP group would act in unity on Dec. 11 and would vote in favor of the law. Bozdağ joined Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç in firmly denying any crack within the party, something the AKP’s senior members have tried hard to avoid, especially in the absence of Erdoğan, who is recovering in Istanbul after an operation.

“The AKP will stand united behind this law. There is no reason to be concerned. Some of our ministers may have had a different position, but as it is not a government draft, it is their right to express their own views about it,” Kılıç told reporters late Dec. 7.