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Turkey's President Vetoes Legislation Favoring Erdogan - 2002-12-20


Turkey's president on Thursday vetoed legislation that would have enabled the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party to become the country's prime minister.

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer overruled the legislation adopted by the Justice and Development Party dominated parliament saying the changes were designed specifically for party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Laws could not be tailored to meet the needs of inviduals but needed to serve society as a whole, the president, who is a former constitutional court judge, argued. Mr. Erdogan, whose Justice and Development Party swept to power alone in the November 3 polls was unable to become prime minister because of a past conviction on charges of seeking to incite religious hatred through a poem he read. His deputy Abdullah Gul became prime minister instead.

Mr. Erdogan who began his career in an overtly pro-Islamic party has disavowed his Islamic roots and insists that the Justice and Development Party, which he found last year, is a conservative party and has no religious agenda.

But analysts say Turkey's pro-secular establishment, including the powerful Armed Forces and the president continue to view Mr. Erdogan with suspicion.

Despite the president's veto, under Turkish law, the amendment can be brought before the the parliament for a second round of voting. The president does not have a second right of veto but he could call for a referendum.

He could also apply to the country's constitutional court to have the law repealed.

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