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Turkish Parliament Approves July 22 Election Date


Turkey's parliament has approved July 22 as the date for early general elections aimed at resolving the standoff between the ruling Islamist-rooted party and secularists over the selection of a new president.

Lawmakers Thursday, voted to back the date proposed by a parliamentary committee.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for an early election after Turkey's Constitutional Court annulled the first round of a parliamentary vote to select a new president, citing lack of a quorum.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul of the ruling A.K. Party was the only candidate for president.

Mr. Erdogan said the court's decision made it impossible for parliament to elect a president.

Current President Ahmet Necdet Sezer says he will remain in office until his replacement is selected.

Prime Minister Erdogan also has called for a constitutional amendment allowing the Turkish people instead of parliament to elect the president.

Secularist Turks say they fear the A.K. Party has a hidden Islamic agenda and that Gul's election as president would threaten the country's strict secular system of government.

Both Mr. Erdogan and Gul deny the charge.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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