Parliament’s corruption probe delayed until next year
Nuray BABACAN ANKARAA parliamentary investigation panel to be established to probe corruption claims about four former ministers is likely to be postponed until next year, as the government seeks to prevent it from becoming an issue ahead of the crucial presidential elections in August.
Parliament is set to recess in less than 10 days until Oct. 1, but the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has still yet to nominate its members for the commission. Although the commission could be set before end of the year after the recess, it will also have to surmount difficulties in the next legislative year, so the parliamentary vote on its reporting will be delayed until next spring.
Parliament decided to establish an investigation commission to probe former ministers Zafer Çağlayan, Egemen Bağış, Muammer Güler and Egemen Bağış on May 5 after deliberations between political parties. Although the opposition parties have submitted their nominated members for the panel, the ruling party has failed to do so as yet. The Parliament Speaker’s Office twice urged the AKP but ruling party officials said they were still looking for the correct candidates to nominate for the commission.
Although Parliament could form the panel in October, it will only likely be able to conclude its report in either February or March 2015. Discussions on the panel’s report at the General Assembly and the voting on whether the ministers in question should be sent to the Supreme Council for disciplinary action will thus only be able to take place in spring 2015. Under normal conditions, parliamentary panels are established within 20 to 45 days and conclude their work in less than a half year.
“The decision to establish this commission was taken on May 5. Today is June 18 and there is no such commission yet. According to Article 100 of the Constitution, investigation commissions should be established as soon as possible after the decision taken and should function within two months,” Kamer Genç, a deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said at a parliamentary discussion on June 18.
“Why doesn’t the AKP name its members for it? Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek is a man trying to cover up these thieves and corruptions,” he added.
Akif Hamzaçebi, deputy parliamentary group leader of the CHP, also slammed the AKP and Çiçek for the delay. “The AKP has prevented the establishment of the commission by refusing to appoint members.
Their target is to postpone it until Parliament goes to recess,” Hamzaçebi said, calling on the ruling
party to appoint its members immediately in order to let the commission function “if it is sincere.”
In response to the criticism, the deputy parliamentary group leader of the AKP, Ahmet Aydın, said they were still working to find the right members for the panel, as Parliament’s internal regulations stipulate that only lawmakers who have not expressed their opinions on the issue in question can take a seat at the related commission.
“We have 313 lawmakers and we are conducting very detailed work to find out who did not speak about this issue. When we do our job, we do it in the finest way,” Aydın said, without stating when they would nominate members to the panel.
The four ministers had to resign from their positions after a massive corruption and graft operation highlighted their relations with Iranian-origin businessman, Reza Zarrab, who has allegedly paid them bribes over the last few years. Under broad immunity as MPs, they can only be tried at the Supreme Council if Parliament votes for it, though the AKP has a clear majority at the General Assembly.