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PM says emergency rule to be lifted before possible referendum on presidential system

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said his government will abolish a state of emergency that went into effect in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15 before a possible referendum is held on switching to a presidential system of governance.

His remarks were published in a column penned by journalist Fatih Çekirge in the Hürriyet daily on Monday.

“In the event of going to a referendum [on an executive presidency], we will certainly not allow anybody to say, ‘A vote was held under emergency rule’ or ‘a referendum was held under the circumstances of emergency rule.’ So, I think emergency rule will be lifted before a referendum,” said Yıldırım.

Emergency rule was first declared in Turkey on July 21 for three months. It was extended for another three months on Oct. 19 and will officially expire on Jan.19, 2017. However, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and government officials say the state of emergency could be extended further.

Under emergency rule, the government has pressed ahead with many controversial decrees, which have the force of the law and are not required to be approved by Parliament. In line with these decrees, around 115,000 people have been purged from state bodies on coup charges.

The government and Erdoğan are seeking to introduce an executive presidency in Turkey in which Erdoğan will enjoy more executive powers. His post is largely ceremonial now; however, Erdoğan has been acting like an executive president since his election to the top state post in August 2014. Erdoğan is a strong supporter of a switch to the presidential system. Yet, critics say Erdoğan wants a “Turkish style” executive presidency without checks and balances, one that is aimed at creating one-man rule.

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