Turkey sends controversial security bill back to committee
ANKARA - Agence France-PresseThe Turkish government has unexpectedly taken its controversial homeland security bill out of parliament and sent it back to a committee for further revision in a possible concession to the opposition, the official Anatolia news agency reported on March 13.
Over half the articles in the the 130-clause security bill have already been approved by parliament but Interior Minister Sebahattin Ozturk has asked for the remaining 63 articles in the bill to be sent to a parliamentary committee before further debate, Deputy Parliament Speaker Meral Aksener was quoted as saying.
The bill has proved to be one of Turkey's most contentious pieces of legislation in recent years with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) staging all night sessions to push it through, meetings which repeatedly descended into punch-ups between lawmakers.
The AKP, co-founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has a majority in parliament allowing it to push legislation through.
Opponents fear that the bill, which the government says is necessary for the security of citizens during protests, will turn Turkey into a virtual police state with the police given sweeping new powers to arrest and even fire on protesters.
The surprise withdrawal of the remaining articles of the controversial bill could be a concession to the opposition pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) which vehemently opposed the bill but is negotiating with the government over an end to the three decade armed separatist Kurdish insurgency.
Expectations are growing of a major breakthrough in the peace process ahead of the Kurdish New Year on March 21 and the government may not want to risk the fragile talks for the sake of the bill.