Turkish MPs to grant Erdogan emergency crackdown powers

Turkish MPs are set to endorse sweeping new powers for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that would allow him to expand a crackdown in the wake of last week's failed coup.

President Erdogan announces plans to purge the  military. Picture: AP
President Erdogan announces plans to purge the military. Picture: AP

The 550-member parliament is set to approve Erdogan’s request for a three-month state of emergency.

Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party accounts for a clear majority of MPs in the chamber.

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In an address to the nation, Erdogan announced a Cabinet decision to seek the additional powers, saying the state of emergency would give the government the tools to rid the military of the “virus” of subversion. He didn’t specify exactly what the state of emergency would entail.

Under the Turkish constitution, the emergency measures allow the government to “partially or entirely” suspend “the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms,” so long as it doesn’t violate international law obligations. MPs can sanction a state of emergency for up to six months.

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A state of emergency has never before been declared throughout the whole of Turkey, though one was in force in the restive south-east of the country between 1987 and 2002. There, governors were able to impose curfews, call in military forces to suppress demonstration, and issue search warrants. Martial law was imposed across the country for three years following a successful military coup in 1980.

The measure would give Erdogan the authority to extend detention times for suspects and issue decrees that have the force of law without the need for parliamentary approval.

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Even without the emergency measures, the government has already imposed a crackdown that has included mass arrests and the closure of hundreds of schools.

Turkish state media said a further 32 judges and two military officers have been detained by authorities during the crackdown since last week’s coup.

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Already, nearly 10,000 people have been arrested while hundreds of schools have been closed. As of last night, 58,881 civil service employees have been dismissed, forced to resign or had their licenses revoked.

A soldier allegedly linked to the attack on a hotel where Erdogan had been on holiday during the foiled coup was arrested yesterday in south-western Turkey.

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The lieutenant was one of about 30 soldiers said to have been involved in the attack on the hotel in Marmais.

The attackers arrived minutes after Erdogan had left the hotel, according to official reports. Earlier this week, officials said at least four suspects remain on the run.