Turkey’s main opposition occupies Parliament, crisis deepens

AK Party and CHP deputies started fistfight after Çiçek issued a session break (Photo: AA)
 Turkish main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has physically occupied Parliament’s rostrum Wednesday night in outrage of a parliamentary bylaw sponsored by the ruling party CHP claims is designed to silence the opposition.
The government’s recent effort to amend the parliamentary bylaw has created chaos in the Parliament last week, escalating on Wednesday as members of the main opposition occupied the Parliament’s rostrum to protest the new amendment.
Last week, fifty CHP deputies rushed furiously into the hall where the parliamentary Constitutional Commission was discussing the bill to amend the bylaw and stated that they were determined to block the amendments. After the bill to amend the bylaw was sent to Parliament’s plenary session for approval, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) jumped on the CHP bandwagon of unrelenting opposition, completely blocking the functioning of Parliament.
Seeing the ruling party’s determination to pass the bill at all costs, the opposition camp further intensified its efforts to produce a harsher confrontation and resorted to every filibustering method available.
One of the main objections voiced by the opposition was the changing of parliamentary bylaws upon the initiative of a single party. They argued that all parties should reach a consensus on any change to the bylaws, as was the case with the bid to amend the Constitution.

On the last day of 2011 the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) introduced to Parliament a new motion for amending parliamentary bylaws. The opposition reacted harshly against the proposal of the AK Party over a new bylaw, arguing that the amendment mainly shortens the time allotted for the opposition parties to talk about their groups’ law proposals.

The CHP, the MHP and the BDP argue that the amendments to the bylaw are designed to silence the opposition.

The AK Party, on the other hand, accuses them of being not eager to solve the country’s problems, by dragging their feet on the amendments.

CHP deputies who blocked the access to the rostrum chanted slogans, calling on Parliament speaker Cemil Çiçek to resign.

Çiçek strongly criticized the move and said CHP deputies’ occupation of Parliament doesn’t solve the problem.

AK Party deputies booed CHP deputies who chanted slogans against the speaker and continued occupying the rostrum.

CHP leader Kemal K?l?çdaro?lu hailed the protest in a televised interview on Wednesday as a “democratic act.” He said the protest will continue until the opposition gets what it wants. He criticized the bylaw amendment as a “coup to democracy.”

CHP parliamentary group released a statement on Wednesday, claiming that the ruling party is trying to silence the opposition by the bylaw and that CHP deputies are not occupying the rostrum but “liberating it.”

AK Party parliamentary group deputy chairman Nurettin Canikli told a news conference late on Wednesday that CHP’s occupation of the Parliament is a “militaristic behavior, brutal and violent.”

Canikli harshly criticized the CHP for its behavior and the opposition party want to block the functioning of the Parliament. He added that the ruling party will not allow this to happen and that the Parliament will soon start working again.

After Çiçek issued a session break, the atmosphere in Parliament grew more tense and AK Party and CHP deputies started fistfight and exchanged harsh words and punches.

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