Turkey: Constitutional reform to boost presidential powers gets assembly nod, faces referendum

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim accompanied by lawmakers votes following a parliament debate on proposed amendments to the country's constitution

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim accompanied by lawmakers votes following a parliament debate on proposed amendments to the country's constitution

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks in Istanbul on January 21.

The parliament in a late-night session approved the seven final sections of the 18-article constitution. 142 MPs voted against the bill. At least 330 deputies - a three-fifths majority - were needed to adopt the bill. Turks will have the final say in a referendum that could be held in early April.

"No one should have any doubt of this, on the issue of constitutional change, the most correct decision will certainly be given by the people", he said.

In a dramatic move, Turkey's parliament voted to pass a controversial constitutional reform package which will expand the powers of the presidnet exponentially.

Instead, there will a vice president, or possibly several. The changes won the support of most deputies from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which has been accused of taking bribes from the AKP.

The opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) will campaign against the measures.

During the evening debate an independent lawmaker, Aylin Nazliaka, handcuffed herself to the podium in protest against the stronger presidency, triggering a scuffle between MPs of the ruling AK Party and opposition parties.

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Meanwhile, eight more states and the District of Columbia have also legalized the drug to be used for recreational purposes. Furthermore, the team found no evidence of a link between marijuana use in pregnancy and cancer risk in offspring.

"There would be no weakness in fighting terror (or). on economic issues", Yildirim said in an interview with TRT Haber broadcaster.

If the clock on Mr Erdogan's presidency re-sets from 2019, that would allow him to stay in the job until 2029, not 2024. He seized on a tumultuous and bloody period - one punctuated by an attempted coup, war with Kurdish separatists and terrorist attacks claimed by Islamic State - to press his case that Turkey needs a leader less restrained by political bureaucracy.

The president would decide whether or not impose a state of emergency.

The political instability has contributed to the lira's continuous decline in value against the USA dollar, and worries over the already fragile economy.

The president's allies have argued that the state had become unruly and that the long-overdue reforms would free Erdogan from bureaucratic obstacles at a time when Turkey is facing unprecedented challenges.

The ruling party says a presidential system would enable the country to surmount a broad array of internal and external security threats.