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Turkish Parliament Debates Constitutional Changes on Electing President

  • VOA News

Turkey's parliament is debating proposals to amend the constitution to allow the president to be elected by the people instead of by parliament.

The ruling A.K. Party called for the changes after opposition parties boycotted parliamentary sessions to elect its nominee, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, as president. The proposed amendments would also shorten the president's term from seven to five years, and allow the president to run for a second term. They would also set general elections for every four years instead of every five.

Turkey's incumbent president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, has the power to veto the amendments. The candidacy of Mr. Gul, a devout Muslim, sparked a political standoff between the A.K.P. government and Turks concerned about preserving Turkey's secular system. Mr. Gul withdrew his candidacy for president Sunday after parliament again failed to vote him into office.

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