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Turkey's Erdogan Approves Constitutional Reform Bill, Paving Way For April Vote


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has approved a constitutional reform bill that paves the way for an executive presidential system that would strengthen his powers.

A brief statement on the presidency's website said the bill had been sent to the prime minister's office to be published and submitted to a nationwide referendum.

Erdogan says the reform will provide stability at a time of turmoil. His opponents voiced fears that it will usher in increasingly authoritarian rule.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus suggested that the government wants the referendum to be held in April.

"With the president's approval, eyes are now on the YSK (High Election Board). The YSK will probably announce that April 16 is the appropriate date for a referendum," Kurtulmus told reporters.

Parliament approved the bill last month. If the measure is passed in the referendum, it could pave the way for Erdogan to remain in office until 2029.

Under the reformed constitution, the president would be empowered to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and top state officials, and dissolve parliament -- powers that the two main opposition parties say strip away balances to Erdogan's power.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP
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