AK Party says July 15 deadline for CHP to take parliamentary oath

TODAYSZAMAN


Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) parliamentary group deputy chairman Mustafa Elita?
The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) parliamentary group deputy chairman, Mustafa Elita?, warned on Tuesday that deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) may lose their mandate if they fail to take their parliamentary oaths by July 15.
The CHP’s deputies are refusing to take their oaths as part of a party decision to protest the imprisonment of two CHP deputies as part of a coup plot probe. AK Party’s Elita? called on CHP deputies to take their oaths and warned that “it would be too late for them to take their oaths after July 15.”
He recalled parliamentary bylaws that say if a deputy does not attend five sessions of Parliament within a month, then he or she may lose their seat in Parliament. This must be approved by a simple majority in Parliament. “If the absentee issue is forwarded to the [parliamentary] joint committee, we would evaluate that. It would be too late for them after July 15,” he said.
Elita? also complained that the intra-party issues of the CHP have turned into a crisis that is affecting Parliament.

If the CHP deputies’ lose their seats in Parliament, more than 5 percent of parliamentary seats will be empty and by-elections will then be necessary. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an on Monday also warned boycotting deputies of the possibility of a penalty if the deputies continue to boycott Parliament or refuse to take their oaths.

The CHP rebuffed the AK Party’s challenge, with CHP leader Kemal K?l?çdaro?lu saying they “will not yield to threats and blackmail.” In response to the AK Party’s warnings, K?l?çdaro?lu said there is no obstacle before the prime minister beginning the process to drop the mandates of the absent deputies.

The CHP leader called a press conference in Parliament on Tuesday and announced that they would go ahead with their “justifiable and legal” stance. The CHP leader listed the reasons behind the CHP’s protest. “First of all, the nation’s will is under arrest. The CHP has adopted this stance since it cannot swallow this shame to democracy. There is no legal obstacle before the jailed deputies being released. Secondly, the CHP, which is the party which introduced the multi-party system to Turkey, opposes the violation of the principle of separation of powers. Thirdly, the CHP has a strong belief in the principle of separation of powers. We oppose any tutelage over the judiciary and judicial tutelage [over politics]. They are asking us if they should call the judges to request the jailed deputies’ release. No, we could never demand that,” K?l?çdaro?lu said. He also underlined that the CHP decided to protest because it regards every single vote as important. “A party which cannot protect a citizen’s vote cannot protect democracy, the rule of law and fundamental human rights,” he explained.

 

K?l?çdaro?lu said the CHP does not see Parliament’s function as being limited to deputies’ holding up their hands in voting sessions. “A parliament cannot be counted a well-functioning one by approving the government’s every single move. The CHP cannot approve of the intervention of the judiciary and the government in Parliament,” he noted. According to K?l?çdaro?lu, the CHP is currently doing what befits it and is acting as “the conscience of the public.”

He argued that the imprisonment of the deputies who were elected by the votes of the public and who do not have any convictions is a shame for democracy. He said the universal principle of presumption of innocence is currently being violated in the jailed deputies’ case. The CHP leader underlined that they do not oppose the trial of the suspects after their release and have not requested parliamentary immunity for them.

 

The CHP currently has two jailed deputies: Mustafa Balbay and Mehmet Haberal. They are on trial on charges of having links with Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal network charged with plotting to overthrow the government by creating large-scale chaos in the country. Despite several demands for their release by the suspects’ lawyers, courts have rejected their release.

The CHP is not the only party which has refused to take the parliamentary oath. Deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) are also boycotting Parliament. They earlier announced that it would boycott Parliament in protest of the Supreme Election Board’s (YSK) decision regarding Hatip Dicle, and five other of its jailed deputies. The YSK stripped Dicle, one the six jailed deputies, of his mandate over a prior terrorism-related conviction after the June 12 vote, which led to outrage among the pro-Kurdish party and its supporters. A total of 36 independent deputies supported by the pro-Kurdish BDP were elected in the June 12 elections. However, six of the BDP-sponsored deputies are currently under arrest as part of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) trial.


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