Despite earlier remarks signaling swift approval of a constitutional amendment package that will bring a presidential system to Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that he needs to “evaluate” the package before approving it.
In surprising remarks, Erdoğan said at a press conference with Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome Wirtu that “because I am the president, I need to evaluate [the package] as well as conditions in Parliament. It is not only about approving or rejecting it.”
The 18 amended articles that are expected to be approved in a referendum in April have drawn tremendous criticism from opponents, who say the change in system of governance will give the president tremendous power, including the right to dissolve Parliament.
During a recent visit to Africa in late January, Erdoğan had said he would approve the changes as soon as possible.
The opposition parties, with the exception of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), are strongly against the amendments as they would officially bring about one-man rule in the country. Erdoğan on Tuesday also thanked MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli for his support for the changes. Some top MHP figures have voiced criticism of the switch to an executive presidency; yet, Bahçeli stands by Erdoğan on the issue, saying it is critical for the future of Turkey.