Turkey's ruling AKP to form a new political party in case of closure

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said that if the Constitutional Court decides to close down his Justice and Development Party (AKP), a new political party would be formed and early elections will be held. Turkey's Kanal D reported Erdogan will run as an independent candidate in the elections. Erdogan held a private dinner meeting with a couple of columnists, it said. (UPDATED)

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Erdogan told at the dinner if the AKP is closed then its members would continue their political activities under a new party, Kanal D quoted Can Paker, the host of the evening, as saying.

"If I cannot run in the elections (as an independent candidate), I would lead a non-governmental organization or form a new one," Erdogan was quoted as saying.

Turkey's top prosecutor, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, filed a lawsuit against the AKP, claiming the party became the "focal point of anti-secular activities," and demanded 71 officials, including Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul, be banned from politics for five years.

If the Constitutional Court bans Erdogan from politics he will not be able to join the new party, but there is no article in the laws saying a leader or a member of a banned party cannot run as an independent candidate.

Erdogan expects the Court to reach a verdict by late June – early August, which means that Turkey faces prospects of another parliamentary election only a year after the previous one. Erdogan had earlier said he didn't believe that his party would be closed.    

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He said the AKP will not make a constitutional amendment to block political party closures. He added his party would not lead a referendum for a constitutional amendment in case the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) does not support the AKP in parliament.

The AKP has yet to declare its road map after the closure case. Initially it was reported the ruling party planned to amend the constitution to toughen the conditions for party closure, and take it to a referendum, a move likely to increase polarization and raise tension further. But later the AKP said it is working on a larger democratization package to revive the stalled EU reform process.



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