Constitution commission agrees to continue work until July 1

Constitution commission agrees to continue work until July 1

Constitution commission agrees to continue work until July 1

Parliament's Constitution Conciliation Commission held a critical meeting chaired by Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek on May 7. The Commission in which each four parties having a seat in the Parliament is represented by three members, agreed to continue working until July 1. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Parliament's Constitution Conciliation Commission will continue to negotiate the drafting of a new charter until July 1, the commission's members announced May 7. Following a critical meeting chaired by Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek that lasted two hours, commission members decided to pursue their work two more months, focusing primarily on the articles regarding fundamental rights. Meanwhile, advisers appointed by the parties will discuss the other sections of the Constitution, especially the articles regarding the executive, legislative and judicial powers and prepare the grounds for the discussions between commission members.

At the end of June, Çiçek will visit the party leaders and make a new assessment, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy chair Mehmet Ali Şahin, a member of the commission, said.

The commission is also set to hold an assessment meeting on July 1, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Faruk Bal told reporters. Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Atilla Kart said they would continue their "constructive efforts" and try to agree on as many articles as possible.

For his part, AKP deputy Ahmet İyimaya said he had still hoped the commission would bear fruit. "If there is a clear will, I believe that this commission can make a draft Constitution," he said. İyimaya also added that the AKP is prepared to negotiate on a parliamentary system and step back from its insistence on a presidential system on the condition that the powers of the president are reviewed and adapted for a directly elected president.

The fate of the commission was uncertain as the four parties had reached a consensus on only 30 of the 125 articles discussed in 17 months of work. President Abdullah Gül expressed his disappointment on the inability of the commission to make "a Constitution from scratch" during his Portugal visit May 6. The end of April had been the deadline given by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to finish a first draft.

However Bal said they did not interpret July 1 as a new deadline. "None of the parties can [set] a deadline. If the work is not completed by July 1, the parties that are not happy with it can withdraw [from the commission]," Bal said.