The top Turkish opposition leader has warned that the proposed constitutional amendments can put the country at risk of falling under the control of a single person within a matter of one day.
“In this [suggested] system, if you persuade the president, you can take over the Turkish Republic in 24 hours at most. It does not have any mechanism,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said during a rally in the Black Sea province of Amasya on Wednesday.
On April 16, Turkey will hold a referendum on the constitutional amendments, including giving executive powers to the president, currently a ceremonial post, and abolishing the office of the prime minister.
The draft constitution, backed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has already gained approval in the parliament dominated by lawmakers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Kilicdaroglu further said the proposed constitutional reforms would put “all authority” in the hands of a single person.
“If one person or a group tricks this person, they can take over the Turkish Republic in one day. He will be appointing the ministers, general managers, police chiefs, muftis and department heads. The appointments can be published in the Official Gazette in an hour and all state cadres can change in 24 hours,” he added.
Kilicdaroglu ruled out the prospect of positive change in Turkey if the proposed amendments were enforced, asking, “Will it solve the problems of farmers or tradesmen? Will it solve the terror problem? Will it bring in sustainability? Which problem will it solve? Will it solve the employment problems of the youth? Then why is such a change being made?”
He had in January called on Turkish citizens to say “No” to the changes in the referendum, stressing, “If you respect what is right, you will oppose this constitution.”
The proposed constitutional changes have been met with widespread protest across the country, with critics saying the reforms will usher in an era of authoritarian rule and cement the ruling AKP.
Under the new constitution, Erdogan will be able to stand in two more election cycles, potentially governing as a powerful executive until 2029.
The opponents also say the AKP is using last year’s failed coup to expand Erdogan’s authority and crackdown on opposition.
More than 250 were killed on July 15 last year, when a group of renegade army and police officers attempted to oust Erdogan. The coup failed permanently after the president returned to his office and people forced the putschists to lay down their arms.
Erdogan then ordered a massive crackdown, which has seen more than 40,000 people jailed and some 110,000 others discharged from their jobs.