Turkish MPs boycott swearing-in of parliament

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Turkish MPs boycott swearing-in of parliament

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Two of Turkey’s main opposition parties boycotted the opening of parliament on Tuesday after judges barred nine jailed MPs from taking their seats.

Lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party stayed away, while the Republican People’s Party declined to take the oath.

The two parties together hold 171 seats in Turkey’s 550-seat legislature.

They argue the terrorism-related charges against the nine elected representatives are politically motivated.

One has already been stripped of his place in parliament. The seat was handed to the ruling Justice and Development Party.

Republican Oktay Eksi did attend in his role as interim speaker.

He said the current situation is “not becoming of the level of democracy Turkey has achieved.”

The dispute could raise the possibility of by-elections in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast.

It may also hinder Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vow to seek consensus with the opposition over plans for a new constitution.