Main opposition challenges PM, ministers to lift own immunities

Main opposition challenges PM, ministers to lift own immunities

Main opposition challenges PM, ministers to lift own immunities

DHA photo

Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has challenged the leaders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to lift all immunities, including those of ministers, as a row over the topic continues with endless accusations on both sides.

“Why should [your immunity] remain, brother?” he asked, referring to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
 If you are moral, if you are accountable, come forward and say ‘I am lifting my own immunity as well,’” the CHP leader said April 19, while noting the PM was unlikely to have the courage to do so.

Kılıçdaroğlu evaluated the AKP’s draft amendment on lifting parliamentary immunities and said the CHP initially responded by submitting a counter proposal, offering to rewrite Article 83 of the Turkish Constitution which deals with the issue of immunities. 

“We said ‘let’s cleanse politics,’ but they said no. Those who are dirty do not have the luxury of accepting our offer,” he said. 

Kılıçdaroğlu said a deputy should be able to freely express his or her opinions in parliament, in group meetings, or across Turkey’s provinces, but should never be permitted to become involved in corruption, collusive tendering or theft. 

Claiming the AKP could never support an amendment stripping its own leaders of immunity, Kılıçdaroğlu based his argument on the Kurdish peace process and the country’s biggest-ever corruption investigation in December 2013. 

“Both Davutoğlu and his brother [President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] aided and abetted terrorist organizations,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, referring to their involvement in the long-stalled peace process aimed at ending the three-decade conflict between Turkey’s security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The CHP previously filed a criminal complaint against Erdoğan, Davutoğlu, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Chief Hakan Fidan and other senior officials, claiming they had overlooked the PKK’s “stockpiling of weapons.”

Kılıçdaroğlu also questioned whether Davutoğlu would continue to protect central figures in the 2013 graft probe case which targeted the AKP government’s senior members. Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, who is currently under arrest in the United States for attempting to evade Washington’s sanctions on Iran, was accused of paying bribes to senior government figures in a scheme that allegedly involved Barış Güler – the son of former Interior Minister Muammer Güler – and Kaan Çağlayan, the son of former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan. The probe was later dropped. 

“I am making a call to Davutoğlu. Will you protect the man who received $52 million in bribes? If not, bring him, brother. Will you protect Egemen Bağış [Turkey’s former EU minister], who received a total of $1.5 million in bribes in three installments, who mocked the Qur’an?” he asked. 

“If you are courageous and moral, if you say, ‘I want to fight against those who make unearned profit,’ then, come, let’s move forth together,” the CHP chair said.