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Deputy PM: Terror would end once referendum results in ‘yes’

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Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said on Tuesday that assassinations and suicide bombings by terrorist organizations may continue for now, but would end once the people say “yes” in an upcoming referendum on constitutional amendments that will officially establish an executive presidency in the country.

In response to a question on rumors of assassinations and suicide bombings in the run-up to the referendum, likely to be held in spring, Kurtulmuş told the state-run Anadolu news agency that terrorist organizations could create a climate of fear in an effort to prevent approval of the constitutional amendments.

“Assassinations, suicide bombings and such could continue from now on,” Kurtulmuş, the second highest-ranking official in the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, warned and went on to say that terrorist organizations, encouraged by the powers behind them, aim to prevent a strong Turkey.

“God willing, once there is a significant ‘yes’ result in the referendum, the terrorist organizations will be completely silenced,” Kurtulmuş said, suggesting that with a switch to an executive presidency the terrorist organizations would lose their motivation.

In reaction to the deputy prime minister’s remarks on terror, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said this was an unfortunate confession. “If this is the case, this government is the source of the current terror attacks,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters in Ankara.

The deputy prime minister, who was elected under a parliamentary system of governance, also welcomed the idea of a ruling party led by the president, which would effectively cripple the role of Parliament. Kurtulmuş claimed that with the proposed changes, which will eliminate the position of prime minister, clashes between the president and the prime minister would no longer take place.

“The esteemed president [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] could become the leader of our party if he so wishes,” Kurtulmuş said in the interview.

In the run-up to the Nov. 1, 2015 elections, President Erdoğan had urged people to make it possible for the AKP to have 400 deputies in the 550-member Parliament, a large enough figure to realize the transition to an executive presidential system so that the issue could be resolved peacefully.

Since the AKP’s seats in Parliament are not sufficient to change the system on its own, it sought support from the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to make the constitutional changes.

Parliament last week approved the proposed amendments. However, the people’s approval is required for the switch to an executive presidency to become effective.

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