AKP draws six-month road map for new charter talks

AKP draws six-month road map for new charter talks

Nuray Babacan - ANKARA
AKP draws six-month road map for new charter talks

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The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has set a six-month calendar for the work of a parliamentary panel tasked with drafting a new constitution, with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu voicing his determination to produce a constitution aimed at transitioning to a presidential system.

The panel, which brings together three lawmakers from each of the four political parties at parliament, will begin work on Feb. 4 under the leadership of Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman. The first meeting of the panel is expected to decide on its general mandate and whether its final decisions will have to be taken unanimously or by simple majority vote.   

Prime Minister Davutoğlu last week held separate meetings with both Parliament Speaker Kahraman and the MPs that will represent the AKP in the panel: Cemil Çiçek, a former parliament speaker and Ankara deputy; Ahmet İyimaya, the head of parliament’s Constitution Commission and Ankara deputy; and Abdülhait Gül, the AKP’s secretary-general and Gaziantep deputy.

“We are determined to write a constitution oriented on the presidential system. A campaign across Turkey will be launched. Our deputies will also be tasked. We want a six-month period for this. We will start in the panel from the 60 articles and then continue work,” Davutoğlu reportedly said during consultations with his inner circle, in an apparent reference to parliament’s now-dissolved Constitution Conciliation Committee, which had reached consensus on almost 60 articles before being dissolved in late 2013. 

The panel tasked with drafting Turkey’s first civilian constitution was officially dissolved after nearly two years of painstaking work. 

Presidential system to be ‘key issue’

The AKP is expected to make serious amendments to its draft constitution introduced to the dissolved commission in 2013, particularly on articles defining the duties and responsibilities of the president. One of the key mooted changes is to make parliamentary approval necessary before powers granted to the president in a new presidential system can be used by the head of state.