Erdogan says Turkey needs new constitution

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People wearing masks to help protect against the spread of coronavirus, walk around the Galata Bridge hours before a two-day weekend lockdown, in Istanbul, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — In an unexpected comment Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke of the need to draft a new and “civilian” constitution for Turkey.

During a televised speech following a Cabinet meeting, Erdogan recalled that the country’s last two constitutions — enacted in 1961 and 1982 — were drafted following military coups, and contained “indelible” traces of the “military tutelage.”

Erdogan said the new constitution should be a “civilian” one, but didn’t elaborate.

“Perhaps the time has come for Turkey to debate a new constitution,” Erdogan said. “This work must be conducted in front of the people and through the participation of all of their representatives in a transparent manner, and the text that emerges must be presented to the people for their approval.”

Erdogan added that he would discuss the issue with his party’s nationalist allies.

“If we reach a common understanding … with our partners, we could take action for a new constitution in the period ahead,” he said.

In 2018, Turkey transitioned from a parliamentary system to an executive presidential system that concentrated most powers in the hands of the president. The transition came following a referendum that amended several articles of the 1982 Constitution.

Separately, Erdogan also said Turkey was building a microsatellite launching facility that would soon begin sending Turkish and foreign satellites.

“God willing, at a not so distant date, we will be launching into space the satellites of our country and those of our friends from our own facility,” he said.

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