Erdoğan implies boycotting deputies’ mandates may be dropped

Erdoğan implies  boycotting deputies’ mandates may be dropped

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

July 04, 2011, Monday/ 20:00:00/ TODAYSZAMAN.COM

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned boycotting deputies of the possibility of a penalty if the deputies continue to boycott Parliament or refuse to take their oaths, while signaling that his party could draft a new constitution if a consensus with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is reached.        

Erdoğan told reporters after Justice and Development Party (AK Party) candidate Cemil Çiçek was elected the new Parliament speaker that Parliament is now working and it is possible that deputies who have not taken their oath can be listed as “absent.” According to parliamentary law, if a deputy does not attend five sessions of Parliament within a month, then he or she may lose their seat in Parliament. This must be approved by a simple majority in Parliament. In this case, as more than 5 percent of parliamentary seats will be empty, by-elections will then be necessary.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies boycotted the oath-taking ceremony last Tuesday in protest of two jailed CHP deputies, Mustafa Balbay and Mehmet Haberal, who are on trial on charges of being a part of coup plots. Despite several demands for their release by the suspects’ lawyers, courts have rejected their release.

Another party, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which has 29 deputies in Parliament, earlier announced that it would boycott Parliament in protest of the Supreme Election Board’s (YSK) decision regarding Hatip Dicle, and five other of its jailed deputies. The YSK stripped Dicle, one the six jailed deputies, of his mandate over a prior terrorism-related conviction after the June 12 vote, which led to outrage among the pro-Kurdish party and its supporters. A total of 36 independent deputies supported by the pro-Kurdish BDP were elected in the June 12 elections. However, six of the BDP-sponsored deputies are currently under arrest as part of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) trial.

The CHP’s deputies have attended parliamentary sessions but cannot participate in law-making processes as they have not taken part in the oath-taking ceremony.

“Coming to the general assembly does not count as  joining in law-making efforts,” Erdoğan said, adding that the boycotting deputies were listed as “absent” on Monday. Erdoğan also noted that the deputies would “lock themselves down” if they vowed not to take their oath until the jailed deputies are released.

Speaking about what he calls the “most important priority” of the new Parliament, writing a new constitution, the prime minister added that his party could honor an earlier pledge to draft the new constitution if a consensus with the MHP was reached, adding that his party would discuss the new constitution with civil society organizations. Erdoğan also wished that the CHP, as the main opposition party, would join in efforts to draft the new constitution, but also said the main opposition party’s position is “wrong.”

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