Turkey's ruling AKP's high decision making body held an emergency meeting Friday to discuss the possible road maps after the Constitutional Court's decision to annul the bill lifting the headscarf ban in universities. The decision is seen as a blow to the AKP's hopes to avoid a closure decision in a separate case as Turkey's chief prosecutor showed the headscarf bill as evidence to back his claims that the ruling party has became the "focal point of anti-secular activities". The AKP's meeting started at 3:15 p.m. (GMT 1215) and it is expected the party to discuss various options including appealing to the country and calling early elections. (UPDATED)
Kanal D said the AKP also debates the possibility of reviving its plans to make new amendments to the Turkish Constitution to toughen the conditions in party closure decisions.
The AKP had prepared a package of constitutional amendments to change the conditions set for party closures after the chief prosecutor filed its case against the ruling party. However the AKP later withdrew its plans to reduce the political tension and decided to leave the legal process intact.
The Constitutional Court made a reference to the crucial Article 2 of the Turkish Constitution, in which the countrys secularism has its legal grounds, in its historic decision. Article 2 of the constitution describes Turkey as a "secular and democratic Republic," and Article 4 says the first three articles cannot be amended or even proposed to be amended.
Turkey's ruling AKP, with the backing of the nationalist MHP, had passed the bill amending the constitution to lift the headscarf ban in universities in February. Public opinion is divided over the issue and the main opposition CHP and the leftist DSP had challenged the bill in the Constitutional Court.
AKP officials slammed the ruling in their first reactions. However Friday's meeting is expected to be decisive and create concrete results. Some media organs speculated the AKP could decide to appeal to the country, to call early elections or to wait for the outcome of the closure case.
Many experts and commentators believe the headscarf ruling is likely to have an impact on the closure case.
The Constitutional Court created a very important case law by making its decision on an examination of the essence of the bill. According to the Article 148 of the Turkish Constitution, the top court could examine only whether the passage of a constitutional amendment was procedurally flawed, it could not pass judgment on its essence.
However the court considered the headscarf bill violated nonamendable articles of the constitution and therefore it examined it on its essence, and ruled for an annulment. The court also ruled for a stay of execution for the first time in such cases.
Hurriyet daily reported the judges began their seven-hour long meeting with a debate over the report prepared by Constitutional Court rapporteur Osman Can, who recommended the case should be rejected due to Article 148 of the Turkish Constitution. Court Chairman Hasim Kilic and judge Sacit Adali extended their support to the report, adding that the court cannot make any ruling on the essence of the case.
"COURT CANCELED LEGISLATIVE POWERS"
The former speaker of the parliament, Bulent Arinc, on Friday slammed the decision and accused the court of "canceling the legislative powers of the parliament" with its decision.
The AKP is a strong party and do what is "proper," Arinc told reporters when asked about the potential outcomes of Friday's party meeting.
The speaker of the parliament, Koksal Toptan, will hold a news conference on the headscarf ruling at 11 a.m. (0800 GMT).
In Washington, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said on Friday the United States followed very closely the closure case filed against the AKP.
The U.S. paid close attention to Turkey and the stability of the region, he told at a press briefing in Washington, D.C.
"The closure case filed against the AK Party has not been brought up in our meetings in the U.S.," Babacan was quoted as saying by the Anatolian Agency.
"Developments in Turkey are closely watched by the U.S.. The reforms made in Turkey in the past five years attract the attention of the whole globe. No doubt, the closure case filed against the AKP is a matter that is on the agenda of the U.S.," he added.
Babacan also said he tells those who ask on the closure case that the legal process continues and that, regardless of the outcome of the case, the AKP will respect the decision.