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(GEN) SCHEDULE OF REFERENDUM TO BE SET AFTER CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL GAZETTE.

ANKARA, May 12, 2010 (TUR) -- Higher Election Board (YSK) Chairman Ali Em said on Wednesday that the board would set the schedule of a referendum for the constitutional amendment after it was published in Official Gazette.

Em said that the board had not made a decision yet because the amendment was not issued.

Noting that the board would convene after the constitutional amendment was published in Official Gazette, Em said that they would make a decision about a referendum and the schedule of it.

Earlier in the day, Turkish President Abdullah Gul approved government-backed changes to country's constitution. Gul's office has sent the bill to Prime Minister's office to be put on referendum.

On May 7, Turkish Parliament adopted the constitutional amendment bill in the final voting of the package as a whole.

The package, except the rejected article 8th over the closure of political parties and a related provisional article, was adopted by 336 votes in favor and 72 against.

The bill is set to be put on referendum in line with the Turkish constitution because it received votes more than 330 but less than 367.

The package brings amendments to the structure of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), and closure of political parties.

It abolishes the provisional article 15 of the constitution which does not allow trial of the members of the National Security Council formed after a coup in 1980.

The bill also abolishes the ban on right to general strike; paves the way for a citizen to become a member of more than one union, and the civil servants and other public officials the right to collective bargaining.

It paves the way for trial of parliament speaker, chief of general staff, and senior commanders by the High Tribunal on charges of crimes they commit regarding their positions.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) is sceptical of the government bill, as it fears it would erode the independence of the judiciary.

CHP also argues that with 26 articles put to vote as a package, rises the question of non-separability of preferences of voters, as they are expected to vote "yes" or "no" to the whole package. It criticises the voting of the package as a whole arguing that all articles should be put to vote separately.

Second opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) accuses the government of attempting to politicize the judiciary and subordinate the judiciary to the executive branch.

However, the ruling Justice & Development (AK) Party denies accusations and argues that the bill aims at making Turkey more democratic in line with EU's expectations.

(GC-UK)

(THROUGH ASIA PULSE)
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Publication:Anadolu (Eskisehir, Turkey)
Date:May 12, 2010
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