Parliament’s graft inquiry panel goes back to square one
A heated debate held in Parliament’s General Assembly on May 5 to investigate former Cabinet ministers Zafer Çağlayan, Egemen Bağış, Muammer Güler and Erdoğan Bayraktar, over graft claims.With the procedure for the establishment of a parliamentary commission to investigate four former ministers already delayed due to the failure of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to nominate its members, the Parliamentary Speaker’s Office has also vetoed a majority of opposition nominees.
Relying on an article of Parliament’s internal regulations stating that lawmakers who have publically expressed an opinion about particular allegations cannot be a member of an inquiry commission into the same issue, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek has rejected the inclusion of nine nominees from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and three nominees from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Çiçek wrote letters to the two parties requesting that they nominate new candidates.
All four parties represented at Parliament will be represented on the commission according to the proportionate number of seats they hold in the legislature. The ruling AKP will therefore hold a majority at the 15-member commission with nine seats, while the main opposition CHP will hold four seats and the MHP and the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) will each hold one seat.
Most of the nine CHP deputies who have been vetoed have a background in the judicial profession.
All parties were expected to the give the final names of their nominations for possible commission members, in lists that would be three times higher than the number of deputies to be eventually included in the commission. Lots will then be cast to identify the final members of the commission.
Almost one month has passed since Parliament’s General Assembly decided on May 5 to investigate former Cabinet ministers Zafer Çağlayan, Egemen Bağış, Muammer Güler and Erdoğan Bayraktar, who are accused of corruption and bribery.
Çiçek had first warned all parties to complete the nomination of possible commission members on May 13, and last week sent a separate warning to the AKP. Despite this latest warning, the AKP has still yet to name any individuals for the commission.
Speaking to reporters on June 2, Çiçek said he hoped the AKP would respond shortly to his appeal.
“If a majority had been named for the commission already, there would be no need to wait for one party’s nominees. As the commission will be 15-seated, naming eight members would be sufficient to operate the commission,” Çiçek said, adding that this would not be possible as AKP deputies would be forming the majority in the commission.