Turkey's parliament elects new speaker

08:43, July 05, 2011      

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Turkey's parliament on Monday elected its new speaker Cemil Cicek, a candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), under the boycott of almost a third of the 550 elected deputies who refused to be sworn in to the new parliament to protest against a ban on jailed candidates after the June 12 parliamentary elections.

Cicek is a former deputy prime minister and justice minister of the AKP, which has 327 seats in the 550-seat parliament. He was elected in the third round with 322 votes, leaving behind another AKP candidate Zelkif Kazdal and Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) candidate Tunca Toskay.

None of the three candidates won enough votes to become the new parliament speaker in the first two rounds of vote, since the constitution requires two-thirds of the total number of lawmakers in the first two rounds. Cicek won in the third round with a majority vote.

"We have lots of problems to deal in this term. The first important issue will be drawing up a new constitution," Cicek told the MPs after the voting.

Kurdish problem and terrorism are the other problems to deal with, he said.

A total of 376 deputies participated in the vote, while lawmakers of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) did not use their votes as part of their protests.

More than 30 percent of the candidates elected in the parliamentary elections, including 35 independent deputies backed by the BDP, refused to take oath in the new parliament last week in protest of court rulings banning eight imprisoned lawmakers.

"We will not take the oath until it is made possible for our friends, who were barred from taking theirs, to take the oath," CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu told his deputies last week. He made it clear that those friends included the barred Kurdish candidates.

He recalled that the CHP supported Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2002, when he was barred by a court from taking up his seat in the parliament due to a prior conviction.

The CHP, which won 135 seats in the June 12 elections, called on Erdogan to promote law amendment to facilitate the release of detained candidates.

However, the prime minister criticized the opposition members who did not take oath, saying the parliament would work with or without opposition during a party meeting last week.

Erdogan indicated that the AKP had no immediate plan for a law amendment, saying the problem would be solved later with a more democratic constitution.

The AKP set the frame of a new constitution as its top goal for the new term.

The boycott may make it difficult for Erdogan, whose party won a third consecutive term in office on June 12, to fulfill his pledge to draw up a new constitution by consensus, but the prime minister said Monday that the promise could still be realized if the AKP reached a consensus with the MHP.

The AKP and the MHP together have enough seats to replace the constitution, which requires an absolute majority.

Erdogan said his party wanted the CHP to be involved in the work for a new constitution, but the latter was "on the wrong path. "

Referring to the boycott against the parliament, Cicek said " our first task is to keep the parliament's esteem at the highest levels possible. This place is not for conflict. Let's turn it into a place of civilized conversations and debates."

Source: Xinhua
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