AKP seeking ways to speed up contentious security bill

AKP seeking ways to speed up contentious security bill

Bülent Sarıoğlu ANKARA
AKP seeking ways to speed up contentious security bill

DHA Photo

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is seeking new ways to speed up legislation of the controversial homeland security package, including plans to divide the 132-article bill into smaller pieces, amid strong resistance from the opposition.

Convening on Feb. 25, the AKP’s central-decision making body, the MYK, made a general assessment on the pace of the legislation of the bill, which has created unprecedented tension and violence between ruling party and opposition lawmakers at parliament. Due to the resistance of the three opposition parties that have warned it will turn Turkey into a police state, the AKP has only been able to approve around 20 of the 132 articles so far.

Although the ruling party has the right to withdraw some articles of the bill, the MYK decided not to opt for this option yet. However, if the opposition’s blockage cannot be overcome then the AKP will divide the bill into smaller pieces, according to sources, with the priority to be given to articles about security and the purging of police officers.

Because many of the articles on security that the government is attaching importance to have already been approved, the government believes that passing three of the five chapters of the security package will be sufficient for the time being. Sources indicated that the articles of the last two chapters were not immediately needed by the AKP, so they could be postponed.

The government was planning to approve the security package by the end of March.
Meanwhile, the three opposition parties have refused the government’s proposal to have a one-day break in debates at the General Assembly, in order for the four parties’ representatives to come together to prepare joint proposals on the package.

Internet law still in the pipeline

One of immediate bills that the government is determined to pass before parliament goes to recess for the general election is the Internet Law, which will grant the head of the Telecommunications Directorate authority to block websites within four hours upon an appeal from the prime minister or any other minister, without seeking a court decision.

This authority had been annulled by the Constitutional Court after a similar article passed in another bill, but the government is insisting on securing this authority. It states that it is necessary in order to protect people’s life and property rights, as well as national security and public order.

Internal regulations violated

In rejecting the proposal for a one-day break in debates, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) stressed that it would not be part of a “game” staged by the government in the form of seeking consensus with other parties.

“It’s not possible for us to talk with the government about technicalities of this package. We want its full withdrawal. We will not be part of this sin,” CHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Head Engin Altay told daily Hürriyet.

Describing the work of the parliament as a “washing machine” since Dec. 17, the day when a massive corruption and graft operation was launched, Altay also likened its current performance to a “factory manufacturing shield” under the instruction of the Presidential Palace.

“Laws must not be breached anywhere, especially at parliament. Laws must not be violated in this place where they are made,” he said, criticizing the ruling party for violating parliament’s internal regulations during heated debates on the security package.

“The judiciary, the executive, and the legislative branches have all come under the tutelage of the presidential palace,” Altay added.