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Erdogan Rallies Support for Referendum

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife attend the rally in Istanbul on April 8.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife attend the rally in Istanbul on April 8.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rallied hundreds of thousands of supporters in a gathering in Istanbul, days before a milestone referendum that seeks to grant his office extended powers.

If adopted, constitutional changes proposed in the April 16 referendum will transform Turkey from a parliamentary system to an executive presidency, significantly expanding the powers of the presidential office, Aljazeera reported.

“At this point, it is not enough for us to adopt the constitutional changes. We have a much bigger responsibility,” Erdogan told cheering supporters.

“Istanbul should say ‘Yes’ in such a way that the hearts of all who look at the Turkish nation in a malicious way should tremble, starting from the ones who defiled this holy city 99 years ago,” he said, referring to the war fought against occupying European powers after the World War I.

Turkish officials have been engaged in a war of words with Germany and the Netherlands since last month after the two European Union member states barred Turkish ministers from rallying at referendum campaign gatherings within their borders.

The two largest opposition parties and other critics argue the amendments will give too much power to one individual, undermining separation of powers in the government.

Erdogan said at the rally that Turkey’s current system has created too many short-lived governments in the past.

The AK Party has been carrying out a massive campaign to convince Turks to vote for the constitutional changes.

The party has been ruling Turkey for 15 years after taking over a country in political crisis and economic downturn in 2002.

Erdogan was elected president in 2015, becoming the first Turkish president to be elected by popular vote in line with previous constitutional amendments passed in 2010.

 

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