Parliamentary commission: Turkish president’s term should end 2014

Parliamentary commission: Turkish president’s term should end 2014

A Turkish parliamentary commission recommended on Tuesday that President Abdullah Gul's term should expire in 2014, in a move to end confusion over the duration of his term, the state run Anatolia news agency reported.

Gul was elected president, a largely figurehead role, with the support of ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) parliamentarians in 2007, but there had been doubt over whether his term would last for five or seven years, Today's Zaman reported.

Parliament still has to ratify the recommendation by its constitutional commission.

The change could be significant for the ambitions of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the most powerful politician in Turkey.

Erdogan plans to draft a new constitution to replace one framed after a military coup three decades ago, and he reportedly favors moving Turkey to a more presidential-style of government.

There is speculation that Erdogan wants to become president before his third and final term as prime minister ends in 2015.

The AK, a socially conservative party that sprang from a banned Islamist party, won 50 percent of the vote in a parliamentary election last June, thanks in large degree to Erdogan's dominant personality and his success in delivering rapid economic growth.

The parliamentary commission recommends the seven-year term only applies to the current presidency, and thereafter the term should be five years.

Prior to becoming president, Gul had been foreign minister in Erdogan's government. He was the AK Party's first prime minister after it swept to power in 2002, but he stepped aside when Erdogan, who had been barred by the courts from contesting the election, won a parliamentary seat in a by-election a year later.

The confusion over the length of Gul's presidency stemmed from changes to the constitution made after he was elected by parliament in 2007.

Gul had been elected for a one-time seven-year term as president, though there were already proposals, subsequently passed in a referendum, that the presidency should be for five years for a maximum two terms.

In the future, Turkey's president will be elected by the people, instead of the parliament.

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