Turkey heads towards key referendum vote

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Turkey heads towards key referendum vote

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When Turkey votes on a change to its constitution on Sunday, it will also be viewed as a test of support for a government that has been accused of having Islamist ambitions in a fiercely secular state.

The AK Party of Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan emerged from political Islam, and he says a move away from the current military-based constitution is essential to strengthen democracy and move closer to Europe.

But the AKP denies having any hidden agenda to undermine secularism in Turkey.

The opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, is staunchly secularist and is campaigning for a ‘No’ vote on Sunday.

They claim the constitutional changes, among other things, are intended to give the government more control over the courts.

Polls show the vote is going to be close.

The current charter was drawn up in the 1980s after a military coup, known for its brutal treatment of opponents.

In Ankara a museum has dedicated an exhibition to show the paraphernalia of torture used after the coup, when hundreds of thousands were arrested. 300 people died in prison, including 171 as a result of torture.