Turkish Parliament opens, eyes turn to new cabinet
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
HÜRRİYET photoThe 26th legislative term of Turkey’s parliament opened on Nov. 17 with newly elected MPs taking their oaths and with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in attendance. Eyes have now turned to the names set to be included in the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s new cabinet.
Erdoğan gave Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu the mandate to form a new government hours after the PM took his oath.
As the oldest member of parliament, Deniz Baykal, the former leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), made the opening speech as temporary parliament speaker until parliament elects its new speaker.
In his speech, Baykal delivered stern warnings to the ruling party, underlining the necessity for reconciliation between the AKP and opposition parties and saying the fact that the AKP won a single-party majority only increased this necessity.
Baykal said the breakdown of dialogue between the AKP and the opposition leads directly to the suppression of the judiciary and the media.
In an indirect reference to the movement of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, an ally-turned-foe of the government, Baykal said the AKP should now realize “the drawbacks of turning the state over to a religious community” but must now also beware oppressing certain religious communities.
Baykal refused a request by CHP deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu to stand in silence in memory of the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Suruç, Ankara and Paris, stating that parliament should first take its oath. Bennur Karaburun, the first deputy to take their oath, recited “Bismillah” (in the name of God) while pledging. HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş, meanwhile, was not able to attend the session as he is recovering from recent upper respiratory tract surgery.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu later meet President Erdoğan, who gave him the mandate to form a new government.
Davutoğlu will likely announce the members of the new cabinet Nov. 19 or on Nov. 20, according to party members speaking on condition of anonymity.
A motion signed by Erdoğan that says the interim government will remain in charge until a new government is formed was published in the Official Gazette and went into force late on Nov. 16.
Sources say Davutoğlu plans to include two women in the new cabinet, while former Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan has been tipped as a possible contender to take over as Turkey’s new foreign minister.
MP İsmail Kahraman, known as a name close to President Erdoğan, is expected to be the AKP’s candidate to be the new parliament speaker.
Zana oath crisis
Speaker of the Turkish parliament has declared an oath taken by a leading Kurdish politician null and void due to the latter’s rewording of the oath.
“I swear upon my honor and integrity, before the great Turkish nation, to safeguard the existence and independence of the state, the indivisible integrity of the country and the nation, and the absolute sovereignty of the nation; to remain loyal to the supremacy of law, to the democratic and secular republic, and to Atatürk’s principles and reforms; not to deviate from the ideal according to which everyone is entitled to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms under the notion of peace and prosperity in society, national solidarity and justice, and loyalty to the Constitution,” says the oath.
However, Leyla Zana, Ağrı, deputy of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), used the phrase “the great Turkey nation” instead of “the great Turkish nation.” Deniz Baykal, Antalya deputy of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), running the first session of the newly elected parliament at the oath-taking ceremony on Nov. 17, declared the oath by Zana null and void, while inviting her to once more take the oath.
However, Zana had already left the assembly hall. It was not yet clear whether Zana would repeat the oath during the session that was expected to last until the early morning of Nov. 18 or during a session in the coming days.