Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says the government will soon resume efforts to change the country’s constitution and expand presidential powers, in a controversial move that has drawn mounting criticism.
"We will at once take steps in this direction and will let either parliament or the people decide," Yildirim told members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in comments aired live on Wednesday.
He also described the constitutional reforms as "urgent" and pledged to work closely with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to draft the changes.
Erdogan, the AKP founder, has long pushed for a new constitution with an executive presidency at its center that places him firmly in charge. Under the current Turkish constitution, the presidency is largely a ceremonial role.
"As the AKP, we have been saying this from the beginning: we should turn this de facto situation in Turkey into law,” Yildirim added.
The AKP has 317 of the 550 seats in the parliament. Calling a referendum on the constitution in Turkey requires 330 votes, while changing it without a referendum requires 37 more votes.
The Turkish legislature’s second- and third-biggest parties, the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), both oppose the intended constitutional reforms.
The development comes at a time when the government in Ankara has intensified its crackdown on those believed to have played a role in the abortive July 15 military coup, and in the wake of a state of emergency that has been in place since then.
Tens of thousands of people, including policemen, military officers, judges, teachers, journalists and civil servants, have been arrested or lost their jobs under the state of emergency, which was extended last week for an additional three months.
State of emergency to be lifted when situation normalized
Additionally on Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the state of emergency would be removed only under normal circumstances.
"As soon as we normalize fully the situation we will lift the state of emergency," Cavusoglu told a press conference at the headquarters of the Council of Europe in the French city of Strasbourg.
Erdogan raps Clinton’s comments on arming Kurds
In another development on Wednesday, the Turkish president criticized US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for suggesting that she would consider arming Kurdish forces.
"It is a very unfortunate statement," Erdogan said in a televised speech, adding, "To be honest I see it as politically inept."
During a debate with her rival Donald Trump on Sunday, Clinton said she would consider providing armed support for the Syrian Kurdish forces fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
This is while Turkey sees Syria's Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, People's Protection Units (YPG), as terror groups linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.
Turkey blamed for Kurdish TV’s signal disruption
Also on Wednesday, the head of a Stockholm-based Kurdish TV channel said Eutelsat, a French-based satellite provider, has shut down its signal under pressure from Turkey.
Newroz TV head, Faruk Nozhatzadeh, said "the Turkish government was behind" the move, adding that other Kurdish-language news outlets inside and outside Turkey have been shut down recently.