Erdoğan accuses naysayers in referendum of ‘ignorance’

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gives a speech during a mass opening ceremony in Gaziantep province of Turkey on Feb. 19.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused those who oppose a constitutional reform package seeking to introduce an executive presidency in Turkey of ignorance, claiming that they are making inaccurate claims about the proposed system.

Speaking at a mass inauguration ceremony in the southeastern province of Gaziantep on Sunday, Erdoğan said: “The ignorant who oppose the constitutional reforms and the presidential system are constantly saying this and that, but they are always saying inaccurate things. ”

He was referring to the objections of the naysayers who fear that an executive presidency in Turkey will create a one-man rule and end the separation of powers.

Earlier this month, Erdoğan approved the 18-article constitutional reform package, which will be put to a referendum on April 16.

“Before all, the regime in Turkey is not changing. The executive branch is not being eliminated. The Parliament is not being closed down and the judiciary is not being made ineffective. The biggest gain of our republic in the last century will be April 16,” said Erdoğan.

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 as well as coup plotters who attempted to overthrow the government on July 15.

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.

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