CHP leader calls for focus on coup laws in new charter work

CHP leader calls for focus on coup laws in new charter work

CHP leader calls for focus on coup laws in new charter work

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Efforts for a new constitution that will be launched by a panel gathered by Parliamentary Speaker İsmail Kahraman should focus on removing coup-era laws from the Turkish judiciary, according to the head of the country’s main opposition party. 

“We oppose the name of the panel, the Constitution Conciliation Commission, and we do not support it,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in a weekly address to party deputies on Feb. 9. 

“The name of the commission should be the Cleansing Turkey of Coup Laws,” he said, referring to the current constitution, which was shaped after the military coup on Sept. 12, 1980, although it saw many changes in recent years. 

The 1982 charter replaced a relatively more liberal constitution of 1961, which also was drafted after a military coup.

“If you remove the coup law from Turkey, we will give you all the support,” he said, addressing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which initiated the new charter process but needs votes from other parties to make a constitutional change or take the issue to a referendum. 

“Those who take the side of the coup law are the pro-coup ones. As long as they do not change, Turkey will not have a liberal democracy,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. 

Members of the four political parties in parliament should act with “common sense” while drafting a new constitution, leaving no room for doubt over its “legitimacy,” Kahraman said Feb. 4, opening the first session of the inter-party commission tasked with writing a new charter.

The AKP insists that the panel should have a six-month mandate, while the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) favors a year-end deadline.

Both the CHP and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) say the panel should be given enough time to conclude its work. 

A Parliamentary Conciliation Commission was first established in the aftermath of the 2011 elections but had to be dissolved in late 2013 because of sharp disagreements on the change of the system. The commission succeeded in writing 60 articles, and the four parties have agreed to retain them as part of the present undertaking.

Turkey is in search for a new constitution, Kılıçdaroğlu said. “Some 34 years have passed [since the making of the current constitution] and 84 articles of it have changed,” he said.

“The current constitution is no more a coup constitution. A large portion of its basic articles has changed. But what is our problem then? Did Turkey get liberal democracy with the change of 84 items? No,” he said, calling for a change in laws. 

“The issue about the coup laws. Turkey will have first-class democracy once we handle the issue as a whole and resolve this,” he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu also said his party had not forgotten the mine disaster in the Aegean town of Soma in May 2014, which claimed 301 lives, promising to follow the case involving those responsible until the end.

In a rare case of agreeing with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the CHP leader also called on everybody to quit smoking. Kılıçdaroğlu said the country spends $20 billion on cigarettes annually, with around 110,000 people dying from smoking every year.