[BREAKING] Turkish Parliament approves constitutional amendment expanding Erdoğan’s powers

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Turkey's Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim (C) accompanied by some of his lawmakers cast their votes following Turkey's parliament debate proposed amendments to the country's constitution that would hand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's largely ceremonial presidency sweeping executive powers, in Ankara, Turkey, January 21, 2017 The proposed changes which will create an executive presidency for the first time in modern Turkey, are controversial and far-reaching, with Human Rights Watch (HRW) claiming they would "weaken parliamentary oversight of the executive". / AFP PHOTO / Adem ALTAN

The Turkish Parliament on Friday night approved a constitutional amendment package that will open the way to a switch from a parliamentary system of governance to an executive presidency, significantly expanding the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The amendment package, passed with 339 votes in favor and 142 against, will likely be put to a referendum in April.

There has been strong opposition to the constitutional amendments over fears of one-man rule in Turkey as it grants extended powers to the president, and Parliament has recently been the scene of altercations between Justice and Development Party (AKP) and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies.

During debates on articles of the package in the last two weeks, deliberations on the proposed amendments have given way to brawls among parliamentarians as the constitutional amendment package, which expands the president’s power significantly and brings an executive presidential system to the country, is highly controversial.

With the proposed changes submitted to Parliament by the ruling AKP and opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the president will also be vested with the power to dissolve Parliament.

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