’Consensus needed for new charter’

ANKARA - After failed attempts to amend the Constitution following the 2007 elections, the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is once again preparing to seek a consensus among political parties for a rewritten draft.

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"A constitutional amendment without compromising with the main opposition party is possible. But the constitutional amendment is not an issue of parliamentary majority. It is an issue of consensus," Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek said yesterday.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last Friday announced that they would restore their attempts to rewrite the Constitution in April after local elections. Indeed, a parliamentary committee for a new constitution was established last year, but the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, refused to nominate members to it.

Referring to the draft prepared by the AKP government before the 2007 elections, Çiçek said they did not introduce any amendments to the Constitution’s unalterable articles.

"Speaker Köksal Toptan submitted a proposal to opposition parties to seek a mutual solution for the subject but the consensus could only be supplied to amend Parliament’s internal regulations," Çiçek said.

He said many groups in society need a new Constitution on the grounds that Turkey’s current Constitution is a product of the 1980 military coup. "If there is no chance to rewrite the Constitution together, at least we should agree on amendments for the principles that are related to European Union accession process," he said. Çiçek criticized the CHP’s attitude on the legislative immunity.

"We made related amendments in our draft Constitution. They object to our proposal but do not come up with their own," he said, adding that the CHP only focuses on immunity. "This is a defective evaluation," Çiçek said. Meanwhile, President Abdullah Gül said he knows there is a political consensus on the need for constitutional amendments. "But the issue becomes complicated when mixed with politics. I hope the amendment will go through in an appropriate atmosphere."

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