Turkish President defends decision on draft

Turkish President defends decision on draft

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish President defends decision on draft

President Abdullah Gül. AA photo

President Abdullah Gül defended on Dec. 7 his approval of the controversial bill redrawing the boundaries of municipalities, which had angered opposition parties. Stressing that he examined the bill in terms of constitutionality, Gül said he found no unconstitutional features and so approved it accordingly.

“As you know, the bill was adopted amid heated debates. After its passing in Parliament, I instructed my legal experts to examine the bill in detail. I also received objections from the opposition parties, but I can only examine the bill in terms of constitutionality. Political repercussions can be discussed, but I left these discussions to the politicians,” Gül said in response to a question at a joint press conference with Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf.

Gül said he studied previous Constitutional Court rulings on local administrations and determined that the recent changes did not violate the constitution. The municipal borders of Kocaeli were extended to encompass the whole province in 2004 and the Constitutional Court found no unconstitutionality when the opposition asked for the annulment of that amendment, Gül gave as an example.

According to the latest bill, 13 cities with populations exceeding 750,000 people will gain “metropolitan municipality” status. This will add to the current 16 metropolitan municipalities. The boundaries of metropolitan municipalities have also been extended to entire provinces.

This regulation drew strong criticism from opposition parties, who argued that the extension of the borders of the metropolitan municipalities would pave the way for federalism, with mayors in the new municipalities resembling “state governors.” Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) previously announced that it would take the bill to the Constitutional Court on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.