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Turkey's Sezer Vetoes Constitutional Amendment on Direct Election of President

Turkey's president has vetoed a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the direct election of the president, instead of by parliament.

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer rejected the amendment as expected Friday.

He sent the legislation back to parliament for reconsideration. If parliament passes the legislation a second time, Mr. Sezer must either approve it or call for a referendum. He is unable to veto unchanged legislation twice.

Parliament passed the amendment earlier this month as part of an electoral reform package proposed by the Islamist-rooted ruling AK party.

The party pushed through the reforms after parliament failed to elect the party's candidate for president, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.

Secularists opposed Gul's candidacy for president, and they have accused the AK Party of attempting to undermine Turkey's secular order.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is committed to Turkey's secular system.

Mr. Erdogan also called for early parliamentary elections July 22 over the political deadlock.