Former EU affairs minister says Turkey should approve executive presidency to avoid civil war

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Former European Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis delivers a speech during a parliamentary debate on corruption allegations against him along with three other former ministers in Ankara, on May 5, 2014. AFP PHOTO

Disgraced former Minister of European Union Affairs Egemen Bağış said in a radio show on Saturday that citizens in Turkey should vote in favor of an executive presidency in an April 16 referendum to avoid a civil war.

Speaking on Cri Türk radio, Bağış responded to a question on the changes awaiting Turkey if people vote “yes” in the April 16 referendum, which will expand the president’s powers.

“We have to say ‘yes’ to make Turkey stronger, to have stability and to avoid civil war,” said the former minister who had to step down in 2014 as a result of a massive corruption investigation. Bağış was accused of taking bribes from Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, who is currently under arrest in the United States. Due process was aborted in Turkey when the government covered up the corruption investigation implicating Bağış and other ministers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as well as the family of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Bağış currently serves as an advisor to Erdoğan.

Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 to switch from a parliamentary system of governance to an executive presidency. Critics oppose the change on grounds that a one-man rule will be institutionalized in the country.

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