Erdogan Turkish President approves constitutional package to empower his office

Turkish President Erdoğan approves constitutional change boosting his powers

Erdogan approves constitutional reform bill

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ratified amendments to the country's Constitution, says a message on the website of the Turkish presidential administration February 10.

Critics, however, fear the changes will significantly weaken Turkey's checks and balances, leading to increasingly authoritarian rule. Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Friday that the referendum was likely to be held on April 26.

President Erdogan says the reform will provide stability at a time of turmoil and prevent a return to the fragile coalitions of the past.

The bill would "enable the president to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and top state officials and dissolve parliament".

"With the president's approval, eyes are now on the YSK (High Election Board)".

Parliament approved the package in three votes and several rounds of intense - and sometimes violent - debate. A majority of lawmakers supported the bill in the assembly, but the measures failed to clear the threshold required to come into force without a public vote. Currently, the office of the presidency is a largely ceremonial position.

They would allow Erdoğan to consolidate his authority as both the head of government and head of state, eliminating the role of the prime minister.

Erdogan, the most powerful Turkish politician since founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, became president in August 2014, in the first ever direct elections for a Turkish head of state.

Ankara accuses Gulen of orchestrating an attempted coup in Turkey last July. Of the countries where reliable records exist, Turkey is the world's most prolific jailer of journalists.

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