Opposition warns president not to ignore interference into judiciary

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Turkey’s opposition has endorsed the Journalists and Writers Foundation’s (GYV) call on President Abdullah Gül to take the initiative in investigating the executive branch’s recent attempts to render the judiciary dysfunctional.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman and spokesperson Haluk Koç said it is simply not acceptable for the president to do nothing while the rule of law is being dealt a grave blow.

“The president may want to avoid the polemics that were deliberately raised by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but he has to take a stand when the judiciary is being rendered dysfunctional,” he told Today’s Zaman on Tuesday.

“While Erdoğan, as the head of the executive branch, has been consolidating legislative and judicial powers in his hands, the president, whose mandate is to insure the balance of power among institutions, remaining on the sidelines will be surely questioned”, he added.

On Monday, Mustafa Yeşil, the president of the GYV, whose honorary chairman is Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, said that the GYV is calling on Gül to take action to prevent these risks to the constitutional order, the separation of powers, checks and balances, the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.

He said: “The public expects him [Gül] to use his powers and authorities under the Constitution to investigate the interventions in terms of the graft and bribery investigations that sought to render the law dysfunctional. It is vital for the president, who represents the unity and integrity of the country and the state, to adopt a constructive and proactive approach to this process, as this is crucial to avoid the undermining of social peace, dragging the country into chaos, the victimization of a significant portion of the country via politics, the media and the public and, most importantly, it is crucial for justice to be done.”

When he was asked to provide further details about the GYV’s call on Gül, Yeşil said that Gül’s powers are designated by law and he represents the authority that has the primary responsibility for a well-functioning state, adding: “Gül can investigate the recent unlawful developments, the massive reassignments of police officers and prosecutors and the profiling allegations through the State Audit Institution (DDK) to ensure the functionality of the law in the country. We, as the GYV, agree that the president should use the powers given to him by law as an independent authority.”

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Chairman Oktay Öztürk accused President Gül of not being courageous enough to take a stand against Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government.

“For him to take a stand, the president needs to make sure he is bipartisan in his actions. So far, he seems to be acting along with Erdoğan and this has deepened the crisis in Turkey,” he told Today’s Zaman, on Tuesday.

Öztürk also warned that the president is losing his credibility by not intervening to restore the rule of law in Turkey, saying that this is conduct unbecoming of a president. “I’m calling on the president. Time is running out for him, as he will be a hopeless case in the eyes of his admirers soon,” he said.

The MHP deputy chairman also questioned why the court cannot adjudicate a case involving people close to Erdoğan when ordinary citizens regularly have to go to court to testify.

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