Main Turkish opposition rejects constitutional reform proposal

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 16, 2014 6:46 AM

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's largest opposition party said on Thursday it had rejected plans for constitutional changes to resolve a row over the judiciary, paving the way for the government to press ahead with its own moves to assert greater control over the courts.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had offered constitutional change as an alternative to a new law that would tighten government control over a judiciary he believes is using a corruption investigation to undermine him. However, the effect may have been similar though the process would take longer.

At the focus of Erdogan's battle with the judiciary is the HSYK council, which appoints judges. The Prime Minister argues that the HSYK has been infiltrated by followers of a reclusive Islamic cleric creating a 'parallel state' apparatus in Turkey. He argues his action serves to restore judicial independence.

"The proposal (for constitutional change) was viewed as inappropriate and insincere given that discussions of the proposed HSYK law on the agenda of the Justice Commission were not halted," the Republican People's Party (CHP) said in a written statement.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's opponents see the bill as an attempt to stifle a damaging corruption investigation which erupted a month ago with the detention of businessmen close to the government and three ministers' sons.

The planned HSYK reform has triggered European Union and investor concerns and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said late on Wednesday trust in Turkey's legal system was essential to it attaining its long-term growth goals.

(Reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Daren Butler and Ralph Boulton)