President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said those who will vote against a constitutional reform package which among other things brings an executive presidency to Turkey are actually taking sides with the coup plotters who perpetrated a failed coup attempt on July 15.
Last Friday, Erdoğan approved the 18-article constitutional reform package, which will be put to a referendum on April 16.
Speaking at a news conference before departing for Bahrain for an official visit on Sunday, Erdoğan said: “April 16 will at the same time be an answer for July 15. It will be an important move against July 15. The position of naysayers is taking sides with July 15. Nobody should derive a different meaning from this.”
In a previous statement, Erdoğan as well as Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım accused the potential naysayers in the referendum of taking sides with terrorist organizations.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), backed by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), pushed through the legislation that President Erdoğan says will bring the strong leadership needed to prevent a return of the fragile coalition governments of the past.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) fear the reform will fuel authoritarianism.
The reform will enable Erdoğan to appoint and dismiss government ministers, take back the leadership of the ruling party and govern until 2029.
The plans foresee presidential and general elections in 2019, with a maximum of two five-year terms.