Gul can’t serve second term - parliamentary commission

Fri 13 Jan 2012 03:50 GMT | 07:50 Local Time

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Turkish Parliament commission says Gul can’t serve second term.

A Turkish parliamentary commission approved a bill on Thursday, making it impossible for President Abdullah Gul to run for a second term, a measure that will be applied only on former Turkish presidents.

The bill also stipulated that Gul’s term should expire in 2014, a move that will most likely end confusion over the duration of his term.

Gul was elected president, a largely figurehead role, with the support of ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) parliamentarians in 2007, but there had been doubt over whether his term would last for five or seven years. Parliament still has to ratify the bill only approved by its constitutional commission.

The change could be significant for the ambitions of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the most powerful politician in Turkey. Erdogan plans to draft a new constitution to replace one framed after a military coup three decades ago, and he reportedly favors moving Turkey to a more presidential-style of government.

There is speculation that Erdogan wants to become president before his third and final term as prime minister ends in 2015. The AK Party, a socially conservative party that sprang from a banned Islamist party, won 50 percent of the vote in a parliamentary election last June, thanks in large degree to Erdogan's dominant personality and his success in delivering rapid economic growth.

The bill the parliamentary commission approved also says that the seven-year term only apply to the current presidency and that thereafter the term should be five years.

Prior to becoming president, Gul had been foreign minister in Erdogan's government. He was the AK Party's first prime minister after it swept to power in 2002, but he stepped aside when Erdogan, who had been barred by the courts from contesting the election, won a parliamentary seat in a by-election a year later.

The confusion over the length of Gul's presidency stemmed from changes to the Constitution made after he was elected by Parliament in 2007. Gul had been elected for a one-time seven-year term as president, though there were already proposals, subsequently passed in a referendum, that the presidency should be for five years and for a maximum of two terms.

In the future, Turkey's president will be elected by the people instead of Parliament.

The bill also makes it impossible for former presidents Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Suleyman Demirel and Kenan Evren to get elected again.

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