Former deputy PM says Arınç, Gül silent on referendum for fear of AKP gov’t targeting

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Ertuğrul Yalçınbayır, previously a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy and deputy prime minister, said on Tuesday that former Minister Bülent Arınç and former President Abdullah Gül are not in favor of a constitutional package for a switch to an executive presidency in Turkey but that they are keeping silent for fear of being targeted by the government.

In an interview with the Birgün daily on Tuesday, Yalçınbayır said both Arınç and Gül are also afraid of the government targeting their family members.

Those people [Arınç and Gül] may not be speaking out in order to avoid harming the party. However, this would not make them innocent. They are silent because they are scared of the government harming them and their families,” he said.

He also underlined that the AKP has strayed far from the democratic principles that were embraced when it was established.

Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 on a constitutional reform package that will bring an executive presidency to Turkey.

The ruling AKP, backed by the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), pushed through the legislation that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says will bring the strong leadership needed to prevent a return of the fragile coalition governments of the past. MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli publicly announced his support for the reforms.

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