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Erdoğan yet again promises a civilian, liberal constitution for Turkey if elected

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been ruling the country as a single-party government since 2002, has promised to replace Turkey’s coup-era constitution with a civilian and liberal charter if he is elected again.

Almost before every election in his political career, first as prime minister and then as president, Erdoğan made the same promise, which has not yet materialized during his two-decade-long rule.

He is making the same promise again before the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for this Sunday.

The president, who spoke at a ceremony at the Council of State in Ankara on Wednesday, said his government wants a civilian and liberal constitution for Turkey, drafted by a government elected by the people.

He said if Turkey can manage to have a such constitution, the last shadows over its democracy will have been removed.

“This [a new constitution] will be one of the important goals of our ‘Turkey Century’ vision. We will bring this issue to our nation and parliament’s agenda following the elections,” Erdoğan said.

Turkey currently has a constitution that was drafted in the aftermath of a military coup in 1980. The 1982 Constitution has undergone many amendments but is still criticized for being far from democratic or liberal.

During his election campaign before the 2007 general election, Erdoğan, who was prime minister at the time, promised to launch work for the drafting of a constitution that prioritized civil liberties. The attempt subsequently failed, although a commission comprising constitutional law professors came up with a draft text.

Erdoğan and his AKP government have been harshly criticized for silencing dissent, violating fundamental human rights and ending the separation of powers. The AKP does not even let citizens exercise the freedoms and rights granted to them in the current constitution, critics say.

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