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Turkish Lawmakers Back Popular Vote To Elect President

(RFE/RL) May 11, 2007 -- Turkey's parliament has approved a major constitutional amendment that allows the president to be elected by the people rather than lawmakers.

The amendment is a key provision in a package of electoral reforms proposed by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party to end a deadlock in parliament on who will be the country's next head of state.

The government pushed for the amendment after the secularist opposition boycotted a process to elect a new president over fears that the AK party candidate, Islamist-leaning Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, may seek to implement an Islamist agenda.

Now the package of electoral reforms goes to President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who has signaled that he may veto the measures.

(BBC, AFP, AP, Reuters)