“There has been no consensus reached yet with regard to this question. It is not possible to talk about a consensus that either includes the AK Party or is approved by the AK Party,” Akdoğan told Today's Zaman in an exclusive interview. Akdoğan said a draft proposal for a solution from the opposition parties will be discussed by the AK Party's relevant institutions and unless the AK Party gives a go ahead, it would be wrong to say “a consensus has been reached.” Opposition parties, the Republican People's Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which currently have deputies in prison, have been holding talks under the leadership of Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek over the past weeks to come up with a formula to ensure the release of their jailed deputies from prison.
The CHP's jailed deputies, Mustafa Balbay and Mehmet Haberal, and Engin Alan of the MHP face coup charges, while the BDP's six deputies in jail face charges of membership in the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization that prosecutors say includes the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). They were elected to Parliament during last year's general elections, and their nomination to run for Parliament led to a widespread controversy for they were already in jail back then.
Akdoğan said a formula that will save jailed deputies from prison needs to be examined carefully from legal and political perspectives, while warning that the proposal of the opposition parties, as it was covered by the press, seems to be problematic. “The text upon which the opposition parties agree is open-ended, it seems to be one that will lead to undesired consequences,” he said.
There are concerns that a formula that will ensure the release of jailed deputies might also make it possible for the leaders of terror organizations to be elected to Parliament. Recalling the statements of Prime Minister Erdoğan who said: “[Opposition] parties should come up with an agreement first. We will assess their proposal,” Akdoğan said Erdoğan did not mean the government will necessarily approve a proposal from the opposition parties.
The ruling AK Party requested that the opposition parties reach a compromise on a legal solution to the issue of jailed deputies first because jailed deputies are all from the opposition parties. Therefore, the opposition parties, which have not achieved a compromise yet on the issue, requested that the AK Party join the problem-solving process, saying the solution should be found between all four parliamentary parties.
Akdoğan said the problem of the jailed deputies was created by the opposition parties who nominated them although they were in jail in ongoing cases.
“This problem did not appear today or this week. It stands at the same point today as when it emerged. What has changed from the day this problem emerged? There is no change. They [opposition parties] were in the know that nominating jailed individuals would be a problem; they tried make it a fait accompli. The law does not accept arbitrariness or imposition. Following the elections, the CHP said the judiciary will make a decision about the jailed deputies, but they changed their mind later and began to say different things,” Akdoğan said.
The CHP and the BDP held a several-weeks-long boycott of Parliament following last June’s general elections to protest the court decision not to release their jailed deputies. The deputies of these parties took the parliamentary oath later than other deputies.
Akdoğan said CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s remark last week, “Our friends will be with us next week,” in reference to the jailed deputies, is just his expectation.
The draft proposal of the opposition parties foresees an amendment to the 100th article of the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK), which lists the conditions for keeping suspects under arrest.
There are claims that the amendment to be made to this article will be in effect only during this parliamentary term to prevent leaders of terror organizations from running for Parliament.
“All these proposals are open to debate. What are the consequences of such an amendment? Let’s say, after an amendment has been made, the amendment is challenged in the Constitutional Court, and the court cancels the provisional amendment. Restrictions that were made out of some concerns might disappear. What will happen then?” asked Akdoğan.