Referendum on Constitution expected in early April

MEHMED CAVID BARKÇIN
ANKARA
Published 17.01.2017 00:00

Government spokesperson and Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş provided a date for the possible referendum on the constitutional amendment that is currently being discussed at Parliament's General Assembly. Kurtulmuş asserted that the referendum could be held in early April, after the discussions are concluded and the constitutional amendment is approved by the president. Expressing that the second round of voting would be similar to the first round, Kurtulmuş said "the referendum should be held as soon as it is possible. I believe that the earliest possible date to hold the referendum will fall within the first weeks of April."

Talking to a television channel on Monday, Kurtulmuş accused the main opposition, the Republican People's Party (CHP) of attempts to a deadlock in the Parliament, and criticized its members for causing a fistfight, which saw a deputy's nose broken and another's leg being bitten.

"It is unacceptable. We hope that the opposition will abstain themselves from harming Turkey's image with such actions in the second round of voting. The CHP is sabotaging itself by opposing the amendment just for the sake of opposition and it is hurting its own reputation with these kinds of acts," said Kurtulmuş.

The deputy prime minister also made remarks on the discussions of a snap election. Noting that it was not the right moment to talk about snap elections, Kurtulmuş said, "Some mentioned snap elections in the case of a deadlock in the Parliament. I believe it is not right to speak about this at this moment. Turkey is moving forward for the referendum, not snap elections."

Meanwhile, the General Assembly concluded the first round of voting on all 18 articles of the constitutional amendment package in the late hours on Sunday. All the articles passed with 330 votes in favor threshold.

They will now be voted as a bundle in the second session of the discussion which is expected to take place tomorrow. The same limit of 330 votes will be sought for the bundle and failure to achieve so will result in the dismissal of the amendment as a whole.

If the amendment passes the parliament, it will then be submitted to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who will have two weeks to review and respond to the amendment. If the amendment is ratified by President Erdoğan, the referendum will take place 60 days after the ratification.

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