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 Turkish opposition lawmakers take parliamentary oath, Kurds boycott continue

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Turkish opposition lawmakers take parliamentary oath, Kurds boycott continue  12.7.2011   







July 12, 2011

ANKARA
, — Lawmakers from Turkey’s main opposition party took the parliamentary oath Monday, ending a row with the ruling party over the detention of several deputies elected in June’s polls from behind bars.

The Republican People’s Party, which holds 135 seats in the 550-member legislature, had boycotted the opening ceremony of the parliament in June along with Kurdish deputies in protest at the imprisonment of the elected lawmakers.

The CHP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) issued a joint statement Monday, calling on all deputies who had refused to take the oath to be sworn in and participate in parliamentary work.              

Turkish parliament. Photo: AP

“We believe that all political parties and lawmakers should be in the parliament to fulfill the honored duty bestowed on them by our nation,” the statement said.

The statement made a direct call to courts to “interpret and apply” the laws in a way that will “expand freedoms.”

Defying a 2007 precedent, courts last month refused to free nine opposition lawmakers, elected while awaiting trial in prison. The courts said the deputies risk to flee trials or hide evidence.

Two of the detained deputies, journalist Mustafa Balbay and academic Mehmet Haberal, were elected on the CHP ticket. They were imprisoned more than two years ago on charges of involvement in alleged plots to destabilize and overthrow the AKP.

Six of them were Kurdish activists in jail on charges of links to PKK rebels.

Adding to the controversy, the authorities stripped one of them,
www.ekurd.neta prominent Kurd, of his parliamentary seat and handed it to the AKP, raising the party’s majority to 327 seats.

A bloc of Kurdish-backed deputies, who have not shown up at all in parliament since its opening, were not included in the negotiation process between the CHP and the AKP to find a solution over the row.

The Kurdish lawmakers have convened in Diyarbakir, the largest city of the restive Kurdish southeast, instead of Ankara since parliament opened.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised Monday the decision of the CHP lawmakers to be sworn in.

“As you know, this was our expectation. This means that everything can be [solved] if one acts with common sense,” Anatolia news agency quoted Erdogan as saying.

Both Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul called on Kurdish deputies to take the parliamentary oath.

“They belong to [parliament] … I believe they will come and take the oath in the shortest possible time,” Erdogan said.

“I hope [Kurdish] deputies will participate in the parliament, fulfill all their responsibilities and start working as lawmakers,” Gul said, Anatolia reported.     

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, AFP     

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