Turkish president vetoes constitutional amendment on direct vote for president

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer on Friday vetoed a constitutional reform package that would allow the president to be elected in a nationwide direct vote, the semi- official Anatolia new agency reported.

Sezer sent the amendment back to the parliament for further consideration, the report said.

The package was approved by Turkey's parliament on May 11 after lawmakers failed to elect a new president in two rounds of voting in late April and early May under the boycott of the opposition parties.

The package would also allow reducing president's term from seven years to five but grant a chance to run for a second five- year term.

The parliament officially halted the presidential election process after Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, the only presidential candidate nominated by the ruling Justice and Development Party, withdrew his candidacy on May 6. The failure to elect a new president led to an early general election to be held on July 22.

However, Gul said that he would run for the presidency again if the president is elected by people via popular vote.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling party dominates the 550-seat parliament with 352 lawmakers, noted on Wednesday that he continued to support Gul to become the next president, local media reported.

Erdogan also said that he believed Gul would be elected as president in a direct election. "My vote is for Gul," he said.

Local analysts said that the government would likely pass the constitutional reform package once again without any change, which Sezer can either approve it or take it to referendum.

Source: Xinhua

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