Government to tweak text of Turkey referendum

Türkiye Materials 5 October 2007 06:47 (UTC +04:00)

( Gulf ) - Turkey's ruling AK Party yesterday proposed amending a text on constitutional reform that is scheduled to face a referendum on October 21 in order to avert legal challenges to the status of President Abdullah Gul.

Turkish voters are widely expected to endorse the constitutional amendments proposing that the people - and not parliament - elect the president.

Gul was elected by parliament in August for a seven-year term. If, as widely expected, voters back the reforms in the referendum, some legal experts said he would have to resign and run again for the post in a popular vote.

An AK Party official said the party would scrap an Article in the referendum text that stipulates Turkey's 11th president must be elected by voters. Gul is Turkey's 11th head of state.

All future presidents after Gul will then be elected by popular vote.

The AK Party formally submitted its proposal to parliament after consultations with opposition parties. It shrugged off a call from the main opposition Republican People's Party to cancel the referendum.

Parliament is expected to approve the revised text in good time before the referendum, AK Party officials said.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government initially proposed the reforms after Turkey's powerful secular elite, including army generals and judges, successfully blocked parliament's first attempt to elect Gul as president in May.