Public gatherings banned in Ankara amid debate over constitution

11.01.2017

Authorities in the Turkish capital Ankara have banned demonstrations and public gatherings for the next 30 days, as parliament debates a controversial overhaul of the country's leadership structure.

A warning from the intelligence services over a planned terrorist attack on such gatherings was the reason for the measure, which covers the whole province of Ankara, the provincial governor said.

Parliament this week began considering the reform of Turkey's presidential system, which would give the president – currently just head of state on paper – the power to run the government.

The reform bill passed its first hurdle overnight, with a majority agreeing to debate the constitutional reform. The debate was preceded by demonstrations outside the parliament building against the new system.

Police used tear gas and water cannons to break up the protests.

The pro-Kurdish HDP is refusing to take part in the debate in protest over the arrest of 12 its lawmakers, German-Turkish representative Ziya Pir told journalists on Tuesday.

The HDP, along with the biggest opposition party CHP, say they are concerned the new presidential system could create a dictatorship in Turkey.

In imposing the ban on gatherings, Ankara's provincial governor invoked the state of emergency in place across the country since an attempted coup in mid-July.    (dpa) 

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