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ISTANBUL, Mar 24, 2010 (TUR) -- Government spokesman State Minister Cemil Cicek said the current parliament had the authority to amend the constitution, noting that a constituent assembly was not necessary.

Justice and Development (AK) Party announced on Monday a constitutional bill, proposing amendments to 22 articles and abolishment of the Article 15 of the constitution.

The opposition which is suspicious of the government attempt to amend the constitution, accuses it of trying to take the judiciary under control.

Cicek who briefed the representatives of news papers and TV channels Wednesday on the government's constitutional amendment bill, said the constitution itself was the root cause of many problems in Turkey.

He said Turkey was trying to run the state wheel with a problematic constitution, noting that all segments of the society was longing for a new constitution.

Cicek said the current constitution which gave priority to security and state over the individual was outdated, noting that in the contemporary world the individual was given precedence over the state.

He said the government would continue to seek consensus in the parliament until Friday. He said however that it was not always possible to find consensus, noting that otherwise they would carry the issue to referendum.

Cicek said the proposed draft bill was not final, signalling that they were open to criticism and suggestions.

The government bill among other things aims to change the constitution of the Supreme Board of Judges (HSYK) and Prosecutors and the Constitutional Court, and tie opening of closure cases against political parties to the permission of a parliamentary committee.

Opposition parties which are sceptical of the government bill, have also severely criticized the attempt, and said the move aimed at taking over and politicising the judiciary.

The government which denies accusations argues that the bill aims at making Turkey more democratic in line with EU's expectations.

AK Party government which is touring the opposition parties in a bid to raise support in the parliament for the bill, stated it would carry the amendment package to referendum if it failed to get the required support.

Both the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and second opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) declared they would not support the bill.

CHP is sceptical of the government bill, as it fears it would erode the independence of the judiciary.

It says it will only support the abolishment of the provisional article 15, if the government brings it separately to parliament floor, refusing to support the whole bill.

Second opposition Nationalist Movement Party accuses the government of attempting to politicise the judiciary and subordinate the judiciary to the executive branch.

The government bill foresees amendments to 22 articles of the Constitution, including the articles 10, 20, 23, 41, 53, 69, 74, 84, 94, 125, 128, 129, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 156 and 159.

The bill also aims to bring the right to collective bargaining for Civil servants and the other public workers and to abolish the provisional article 15 of the constitution which prevents trial of Generals who led the coup on September 12, 1980.

The bill also aims to enable trial of military personnel at civilian courts on charges of crimes they commit against security of the state and the constitutional order.

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Publication:Anadolu (Eskisehir, Turkey)
Date:Mar 24, 2010

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