Row over reading of graft allegations marks extraordinary legislative session
Opposition deputy parliamentary group chairs complained during long minutes over Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Sadık Yakut's refusal to let the summaries of proceedings be read in the General Assembly. AA photoAn extraordinary session at Parliament that convened March 19 was marked by a heated argument between opposition lawmakers and the deputy parliamentary speaker over the full reading of the summary of proceedings on four former ministers facing corruption allegations.
Opposition parties demanded that the summaries of proceedings be read in the General Assembly in order to open them to the scrutiny of lawmakers, but Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Sadık Yakut of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) refused, arguing that this would compromise judicial confidentiality.
The summaries of proceedings about former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, former EU Minister Egemen Bağış, former Interior Minister Muammer Güler and former Urbanization and Environment Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar were reported to contain serious and concrete claims of corruption.
Yakut attempted to move for a preliminary session regarding the allegations which would not require a full reading of the documents against the four ex-ministers, causing a major uproar in the opposition ranks.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Akif Hamzaçebi said the ruling AKP did not want the full reading as it knew that “they would be in great trouble” in such a case. For his part, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Oktay Vural accused Yakut of taking an illegitimate decision and “staging a coup against Parliament.”
CHP's motion that demands the summaries of proceedings be read in the General Assembly was rejected by a highly controversial 259-158 vote. Following the voting, opposition deputies chanted in the parliament: "Bribery is everywhere, corruption is everywhere."
AKP requests investigation commission
During the debates, AKP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Nurettin Canikli denied opposition accusations that the ruling party had sought to cover up the allegations, adding that his party group had made a petition to establish a parliamentary investigation commission on the matter, as had previously been reported by daily Hürriyet.
“Those claims were in any case leaked everywhere ... It is out of the question that lawmakers are trying to escape from an auditing,” he said.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has also accused the opposition of not requesting to launch of an investigation commission, something he claimed to be the adequate procedure.
“There is confidentiality, because this is a judicial process,” Bozdağ said during an address.
The debates officially began after a quorum of 184 lawmakers was obtained. Very few AKP lawmakers were present for the count, but entered the plenary room after the deputy parliamentary speaker announced that the quorum had been reached.
The extraordinary parliamentary session represents a landmark development since Dec. 17, 2013, when a massive corruption and graft probe engulfing the prime minister, some of his Cabinet members and their sons first went public.