Turkish parliament passes controversial voting law, as brawl ensues

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, March 6, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 13 March 2018
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Turkish parliament passes controversial voting law, as brawl ensues

ANKARA: Turkey’s parliament passed a law revamping electoral regulations on Tuesday, backing controversial legislation the opposition has said could open the door to fraud and jeopardize the fairness of 2019 polls.
After parliament’s Deputy Speaker Aysenur Bahcekapili announced the voting result, a brawl erupted between nationalist lawmakers and those from the main opposition. Several parliamentarians traded punches and shoved and chased each other in the chamber.
The legislation formally allows for the creation of electoral alliances, paving the way for a tie-up between President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party and their nationalist allies. It was widely expected to pass, given the combined support of the AKP and the nationalist MHP.
But government critics have sounded alarm over the law.
It grants the High Electoral Board the authority to merge electoral districts and move ballot boxes to other districts. Ballots will be admissible without the stamp of the local electoral board, formalising a decision made during a referendum last year that caused a widespread outcry among government critics and concern from election monitors.
Under the law, security force members will be allowed into polling stations when invited by a voter, a measure the government says will stamp out intimidation by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the mainly Kurdish southeast.
Opposition lawmakers, including from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), have said the presence of security forces at polling stations could be used to make vote counting less transparent.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party has said the measures could lead to ballot boxes being moved out of districts where it has strong support.


Turkey orders arrest of 128 military personnel over suspected Gulen links

Updated 2 min 25 sec ago
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Turkey orders arrest of 128 military personnel over suspected Gulen links

  • Arrested military personnel are suspected of being supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen
  • Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the scope of the crackdown

ANKARA: Turkey has ordered the arrest of 128 military personnel over suspected links to the network accused by Ankara of orchestrating an attempted coup in 2016, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday.
Police were looking for just over half of the suspects in the western coastal province of Izmir and the rest across 30 other provinces, Anadolu said.
They were suspected of being supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by Turkish authorities of masterminding the failed putsch three years ago. Gulen has denied any role.
More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while about 150,000 people from the civil service, military, and elsewhere have been sacked or suspended from their jobs under crackdowns since the attempted coup.
Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the scope of the crackdown, saying Erdogan has used the abortive coup as a pretext to quash dissent.
The government has said the security measures are necessary due to the gravity of the threat Turkey faces, and has vowed to eradicate Gulen’s network in the country.