Çiçek bids to hammer out consensus on jailed MPs

Çiçek bids to hammer out consensus on jailed MPs

Çiçek bids to hammer out consensus on jailed MPs

Parliamentary Speaker Çiçek (R) looks at a bonsai tree during a sapling planting ceremony in Ankara. Next to Çiçek is Forestry and Water Works Minister Veysel Eroğlu. AA photo

Speaker of Parliament Cemil Çiçek is scheduled to hold crucial talks with representatives of the three opposition parties today, in a bid to outline a legal formula that would secure the release of the eight opposition lawmakers who remain in jail.

Following mounting criticism that he has been inactive on the long-standing problem, Çiçek initiated a new attempt at a solution after meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for an hour and a half on Tuesday. Following the meeting, Çiçek scheduled talks with the deputy group chairs of the Republican People’s party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which have two, one and five lawmakers in prison respectively. Constitutional and other legal amendments are expected to be discussed.

The opposition parties have indicated they want to see Çiçek’s offers before commenting. The speaker, however, is expected to ask them to put forward proposals. Article 83 of the Constitution regulates parliamentary immunity. Article 14, however, stipulates the circumstances in which deputies can be put on trial.

“There is no need for a separate, new formula for the release of the lawmakers. An accurate, contemporary interpretation of the law is enough to let the lawmakers come to Parliament and assume their duties,” CHP deputy chairman Gökhan Günaydın said.

In an earlier proposal, the CHP had suggested limiting the time that lawmakers could be kept in pre-trial detention to two years, with the possibility of a one-year extension given in pressing circumstances. The BDP has called for trying deputies without holding them in jail. If a compromise is reached, Çiçek will talk to Erdoğan and immediately bring the issue to the General Assembly.

Çiçek yesterday fumed at the leak to the media of the new initiative. “Politics is something serious. Leaking the issue to the media before a consensus has been reached amounts to political manipulation,” he told reporters.

The deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Hüseyin Çelik, said it was up to the CHP to propose a formula to resolve the issue, while Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ hinted that the discussions would focus on a legal arrangement that would not require an amendment to Article 83 of the Constitution.

The Hürriyet Daily News has learned that the opposition parties do not plan to make any specific proposals today and will listen to Çiçek’s suggestions first.