Former MHP deputy Akşener: Government might cancel referendum

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Former MHP deputy Meral Akşener attends the 6th MHP Extraordinary Congress in Ankara, Turkey on June 19, 2016. AFP

A former deputy and candidate for leadership of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Meral Akşener said on Tuesday that she is concerned about government’s cancellation of upcoming April 16 referendum that will switch Turkey to executive presidency.

Underlining that there will be a clear victory for ‘no’ voters in the referendum, Akşener said during an interview with TELE1 TV on Tuesday she has received unconfirmed information that ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government may cancel the referendum if they are sure that they will lose.

I have doubts and receive unconfirmed information that they may find an excuse to cancel the referendum. You (AKP) were the one relying on ‘national will’ and you took [referendum] to the people [to vote]. I promise, I will go door to door, street to street and hall to hall to explain what kind of a ‘deserter of national will’ you are, if you cancel it,” she said.

Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 on a constitutional reform package that will expand powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and bring an executive presidency to Turkey.

Akşener has been waging a campaign against incumbent MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli, who is a supporter of a switch to an executive presidency. Akşener, on the other hand, opposes the changes to the constitution that will be voted in the referendum on April 16.

Akşener had been expelled from the party in September 2016 after she challenged Bahçeli.

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