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Turkey government to push constitution bill within weeks

Erdogan and supporters argue Turkey needs strong leadership of executive presidency, but opponents fear authoritarianism
Mustafa Sentop, head of constitution commission of the Turkish Parliament, during an interview in Ankara on 15 June 2016 (Reuters)
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Turkey's ruling AKP party will submit to parliament within two weeks a draft constitution reform law that will expand presidential powers, the head of the assembly's constitutional commission said on Monday.

Dogan news agency cited the AKP's Mustafa Sentop as saying Turkey's constitution and parliamentary system needed to be changed for the sake of Turkey's progress.

"We will give to parliament within 15 days the proposal. We will present a constitutional change for our people's proposal in a referendum in the spring months," he told a university conference in northwest Turkey on Monday.

The AKP is seeking support from the nationalist MHP opposition in order to win the necessary parliamentary approval for the reform before taking it to a referendum.

President Tayyip Erdogan could govern Turkey until 2029, officials who have seen a draft of the reform told Reuters earlier this month.

Erdogan and his supporters argue Turkey needs the strong leadership of an executive presidency, akin to the system in the United States or France, to avoid the fragile coalition governments that hampered development in the past.

Opponents see the proposed change as a vehicle for Erdogan's ambition, and fear it will bring increasing authoritarianism to a country already under fire from Western allies over its deteriorating record on rights and freedoms, especially after widespread purges in the wake of a failed military coup in July.