Turkey’s president Ahmed Necdet Sezer has called a referendum to decide whether the head of state should be elected by the people instead of parliament. The call for change comes from prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after his ruling AKP party – which has its roots in Turkey’s Islamist movement -was forced to drop plans to have its candidate elected as president.
Sezer, who already opposed the bill once, cannot veto it again. Rather than endorsing it himself, he has decided to call for a referendum, but has also asked the constitutional court to annul the reform package.
Turkey’s secular opposition and the country’s powerful army vehemently opposed the AKP’s plans to bring in its own president in May, saying they represented a threat to the religious independence of Turkey’s institutions.
Hundreds of thousands of ordinary Turks also took to the streets to demonstrate in the name of secularism. The referendum could be held as soon as July.