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 Kurds, Turkish opposition boycott parliament opening

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Kurds, Turkish opposition boycott parliament opening  29.6.2011   

The boycott meant more than 30 per cent of elected MPs refused to take their oath as parliament convened for the first time since the June 12th election. Turk court refuses release of jailed opposition MPs.

June 29
, 2011

ANKARA, — The third term of the Turkish prime minister got off to a turbulent start yesterday when the main opposition party and minority Kurds boycotted parliament’s swearing-in to protest against bans on elected candidates.

Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party, which has turned Turkey into one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, had promised after its comfortable election win to seek consensus on a new constitution.

But the boycotts by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party               

Turkish parliament opens amid opposition boycott. Photo: AFP

(BDP), the party supported by the bulk of Turkey’s 20 million Kurds, could force mass by elections and stoke separatist violence in the restless, mainly Kurdish, southeast. The CHP won 135 seats in the 550-seat parliament.

Meanwhile, the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) - which won 36 seats in the elections - boycotted the ceremony entirely, after the elections board stripped deputy Hatip Dicle of his seat because of a conviction for spreading "terrorist propaganda." The seat was awarded to a runner-up from AK.

“We will not take the oath unless the way is open for all our deputies to take the oath,” CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said, after a court rejected an appeal for the release of two CHP candidates under detention without having been convicted.

Eight elected candidates - six from the pro-Kurdish BDP, two from the CHP and one nationalist - have been barred from taking up their seats because they are in jail. . Their seats will remain vacant.

With trials advancing at a sluggish pace, dozens are kept in prison and prosecutors are yet to secure convictions. Also barred from assuming their seats were six Kurdish activists,
www.ekurd.netin prison on charges of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara lists as a terrorist group for the 26-year separatist insurgency it has led in the southeast.

President Abdullah Gul has appealed to all parties to resolve their differences in parliament.

The controversy added to tensions in the southeast that had flared ahead of the polls amid PKK threats to step up violence in a conflict that has already claimed some 45,000 lives. Facing calls for legal amendments to end the row, Erdogan has shown little sympathy for the jailed lawmakers, prompting reminders that he himself was the victim of a similar controversy when the AKP came to power in November 2002.  

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