The Turkish parliament has overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to allow the direct election of the president instead of election by parliament.

Thursday's vote is the second time lawmakers approved the article, which is part of a package of reforms.

If lawmakers approve the entire package, Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who has vetoed it once already, must either approve the reforms or call for a referendum.

Turkey's ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party proposed the reform package after parliament failed to elect its 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 over the political deadlock.

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