Erdogan hints at referendum on Turkey joining EU

Erdogan hints at referendum on Turkey joining EU
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview published Sunday he might consider holding referendum to decide whether to with EU or not. (Reuter)
Updated 14 November 2016

Erdogan hints at referendum on Turkey joining EU

Erdogan hints at referendum on Turkey joining EU

ISTANBUL/ANKARA: Accusing Brussels of wanting Turkey to abandon its bid to join the EU, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted in an interview published Sunday he might put the question to a referendum. In another development, Turkey’s Defense Ministry is said to have dismissed over 300 military personnel.
Mr. Erdogan told the leading daily Hurriyet that “The European Union is trying to compel us to withdraw from this (accession) process. If they don’t want us they should be clear about this, they should make a decision.”
“Our patience is not endless. If need be, later, we could also consult our people,” he said, alluding to the UK’s Brexit referendum in June.
Turkey’s bid to join the EU dates back to the 1960s with formal talks starting in 2005. But the process has been mired in problems, which current tensions have done nothing to help.
Rocky relations between Ankara and the EU became even more strained in the wake of the failed coup in Turkey in July.
“Some people are saying we should lift the state of emergency. Why would we lift it now?” Erdogan told Hurriyet.
On Saturday, the president reiterated that he would support parliament if it voted to restore the death penalty, a move that would further alienate Turkey from its European critics.
On Wednesday, an EU report on candidate countries warned that Turkey’s “backsliding” on rights since the coup attempt was putting its membership bid at risk.
“Turkey has apparently chosen to move away from Europe,” EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said as he unveiled the report.
Turkey dismissed the report as “far from objective.”

Navy officers dismissed
Turkey’s Defense Ministry has suspended or dismissed another 310 military personnel as part of an ongoing investigation into the movement allegedly responsible for July’s failed coup. The ministry tweeted Sunday that 168 officers and 123 non-commissioned officers have been suspended from the navy, while 15 officers and four non-commissioned officers were dishonorably discharged.
Over 4,200 military personnel had been dismissed by the ministry since the failed coup on July 15 which killed over 270 people.
Close to 37,000 people have been arrested, more than 100,000 people dismissed or suspended from government jobs, and 170 media outlets and scores of businesses and associations have been shut down over alleged ties to a movement led by Fethullah Gulen, the US-based Muslim cleric whom Turkey accuses of masterminding the failed coup.
Late on Saturday, an Istanbul court formally arrested the chairman of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet at Istanbul’s main airport on Friday, days after nine of its executives and journalists were formally arrested.
Authorities had ordered the paper’s editor and senior staff be held in jail pending trial over the secularist newspaper’s alleged support for a coup attempt on July 15.
Under the state of emergency declared after the coup attempt, police can detain suspects for up to 30 days before a court must decide whether to issue a formal arrest warrant pending trial.
Turkey has also closed more than 130 media outlets since July, raising concerns among its Western allies about deteriorating press freedoms.


Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic

Updated 05 December 2020

Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic

Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic
  • More than 567,000 voters will be eligible to choose among the 326 candidates contesting the vote
  • Kuwait has a lively political life with a parliament elected for four-year terms

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait is holding parliamentary elections Saturday under the shadow of Covid-19, with facilities laid on for citizens infected with the disease to vote in special polling stations.
The oil-rich country has enforced some of the strictest regulations in the Gulf to combat the spread of the coronavirus, imposing a months-long nationwide lockdown earlier this year.
But while some curbs have eased, over-the-top election events that traditionally draw thousands for lavish banquets are out, masks remain mandatory and temperature checks are routine when venturing outdoors.
Infected people or those under mandatory quarantine are usually confined to home, with electronic wristbands monitoring their movements.
But in an effort to include all constituents, authorities have designated five schools — one in each electoral district — where they can vote, among the 102 polling stations across the country.
Election officials are expected to be in full personal protective equipment.
Kuwait has a lively political life with a parliament elected for four-year terms that enjoys wide legislative powers.
Political disputes are often fought out in the open.
Parties are neither banned nor recognized, but many groups — including Islamists — operate freely as de facto parties.
But with more than 143,917 coronavirus cases to date, including 886 deaths, the election campaign has been toned down this year.

A worker cleans desks at a polling station ahead of parliamentary elections in Abdullah Salem, Kuwait, on December 3, 2020. (REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee)

The polls, which open at 8:00 a.m. (0500 GMT), will be the first since the new emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, took office in September following the death of his half-brother, 91-year-old Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
But with the opposition weakened in recent years, no major political shifts are expected.
A few electoral banners dotted through the streets have been the only reminder of the nation’s political calendar.
Instead, this year’s campaign has mainly been fought on social networks and in the media.
More than 567,000 Kuwaiti voters will be eligible to choose among the 326 candidates contesting the vote, including 29 women.
Ahmad Deyain, secretary general of the opposition group Kuwaiti Progressive Movement, said he expected a lower voter turnout than previous years after the dulled-down campaign.
The usual themes are a constant though, from promises to fight corruption and plans to address youth employment, to freedom of expression, housing, education and the thorny issue of the “bidoon,” Kuwait’s stateless minority.
From 2009 to 2013, and especially after the Arab Spring revolts of 2011, the country went through a period of political turmoil, with parliament and cabinets dissolved several times after disputes between lawmakers and the ruling family-led government.
“Kuwait is still undergoing a political crisis since 2011, and that page has not yet turned,” Deyain told AFP.
“There are still disputes over the electoral system and mismanagement of state funds.
Deyain said he expected some parliamentarians in the new National Assembly to be “more dynamic” in trying to resolve some issues.
Kuwait was the first Gulf Arab state to adopt a parliamentary system in 1962, and women in 2005 won the right to vote and to stand for election.