Turkey’s new parliament braces for tense opening

Inside of the Turkish Parliament

Turkey’s new parliament is braced for a tense opening this week after some 30 Kurdish lawmakers announced they would boycott the legislature in protest at the controversial ruling stripping Hatip Dicle of his seat.

Turkish court Sunday also rejected pleas to free two Kurdish politicians facing terrorism charges from jail after they won seats in a parliamentary election earlier this month.

Gulser Yildirim and Ibrahim Ayhan are accused of being members of the urban wing of the the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community.

They were among six Kurdish politicians awaiting trial for terror-related charges who were elected to parliament in June 12 elections as independent candidates from the mainly Kurdish southeast Anatolia region.

Three of them were denied release from prison Saturday, while one, Hatip Dicle, had been stripped of his seat over a recently upheld terror-related conviction.

The court rejected the applications on the grounds that terror-related charges fall out of the scope of parliamentary immunity, and the deputies might change evidence, put pressure on witnesses or flee if they are released, Anatolia news agency reported Sunday.

Earlier this week judges rejected similar pleas for journalist Mustafa Balbay, academic Mehmet Haberal and retired general Engin Alan, who are accused of involvement in alleged plots to destabilise and overthrow Turkey’s government.

Balbay and Haberal was elected to parliament on the ticket of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, while Alan won the ballot from Turkey’s second main opposition force, the Nationalist Action Party.

“Ceremony on Tuesday”

The 24th term of the parliament will begin with the oath-taking ceremony on June 28, Tuesday.

New members of the parliament who were elected on June 12th general elections will take their oath at the parliament on Tuesday.

Oktay Eksi, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), will preside the oath taking ceremony as he is the eldest member of the parliament.

The parliament will recess for five days after the oath taking ceremony for election of a new parliament speaker. Lawmakers will run their candidacies for the position, and the election will take place within the next five days.

Accordingly, MPs can run their candidacies for parliament speaker till midnight on July 2, and the election will take place on July 3.

In order to become a parliament speaker, a lawmaker has to win two-thirds of votes in the first two rounds of voting.

After the parliament speaker is elected, chairmanship council will be set up.

The Parliament Advisory Board has to decide whether or not to keep the parliament open after July 1–when the parliament is supposed to go on a summer recess.

In the general elections on June 12, Justice and Development (AK) had 326 seats at the 550-seat Parliament as CHP got 135 seats and the MHP 54 seats. Independents had 36 seats.