Turkish government drops key items in omnibus law after opposition push

Turkish government drops key items in omnibus law after opposition push

Turkish government drops key items in omnibus law after opposition push

DHA photo

Turkey’s parliament experienced a rare session late on Aug. 18 when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) withdrew several items from an omnibus law, including those it had publicly promised to pass, following demands from the opposition.

After hours of debates that ended in the early hours of Aug. 19, the ruling party abandoned an administrative shift in the southeast, extra state control on universities and a privatization plan, as the opposition parties depicted an equally rare united stance, leading to the AKP paying them heed amid newfound harmony that emerged after the bloody coup attempt on July 15. 

Regulations regarding assignments by the interior minister and the governor to replace mayors, deputy mayors and councilors discharged due to terror charges were removed from the draft. 

The suggestion was interpreted an attempt to appoint “trustees” in place of elected mayors. 

The AKP has accused some Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayors in the southeast of aiding the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has increased the frequency of attacks on security forces, leading to occasional civilian casualties.

Articles to move the centers of two southeastern provinces to respective districts and rename the provinces after the districts were also removed.

According to the new regulation which came into force through a joint proposal by four political parties in parliament, Hakkari and Şırnak will remain as provinces while the Cizre district of Şırnak and the Yüksekova district of Hakkari will remain as districts.

The government had previously announced that Cizre and Yüksekova would respectively replace Şırnak and Hakkari, which would respectively be renamed Nuh and Çölemerik, as part of the draft which was presented to parliament on Aug. 2.

In January, the Turkish government announced its intention for such a change amid security operations against the PKK.

Hakkari borders Iran and Iraq, while Şırnak is located on Turkey’s borders with Iraq and Syria.

The AKP also stepped back from a proposal to grant the president the authority to dismiss university rectors after strong reaction from the main opposition Republican people’s Party (CHP). 

Another regulation that would pave way for the privatization of some 100 institutions with autonomous budgets, including the state television TRT and Atatürk Cultural Center in Istanbul, was also withdrawn. 

The omnibus law also includes arrangements concerning project-based incentive plans and tax incentives in the renewal of trade vehicles, as well as arrangements concerning private foundation universities.

The co-chair of the HDP praised the surprising recent conciliation at parliament that led to the omission of controversial articles from the government bill. 

In a similar move, the parliament approved a law aimed at improving the investment climate in Turkey on July 15, while the main opposition chair said his party forced the government to drop a controversial article which allowed money transfers into the country without questioning their origins. 

Critics have said the dropped article would pave the way for illicit money from fraud, terrorism and drug smuggling to enter the country. 

The decision was a result of a consensus from all three opposition parties, the CHP, the HDP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) – all of which voiced their opposition to the article for potentially attracting illicit money to Turkey.