Erdoğan refuses to listen to messages from Kurds

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he speaks during the Mukhtars (local administrators) meeting at Bestepe People's Culture and Congress Center in Ankara, on April 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Continuing his campaign for an April 16 referendum that will switch the country to an executive presidency with much broader powers for the head of state, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refused to listen to messages from Kurdish people during a radio program.

On Sunday evening Erdoğan stopped Gezegen Mehmet, a commentator on Kral FM when he tried to pose a question following a voice message from Kurds.

“Don’t do that,” said Erdoğan in a hoarse voice when Mehmet said: “If you’ll excuse me. There was a program I made between June 7 and Nov. 1. We spoke with Kurds. I specially prepared their messages, and I would like you to listen.”

Following Erdoğan’s reaction the radio commentator continued: “Yes, OK. I will forward them to you. You can listen to them for yourself.”

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.

Parliament’s approval paved the way for a nationwide referendum on the amendments, which would give the president, a traditionally more ceremonial role, the power to dismiss ministers and Parliament, issue decrees, declare emergency rule and appoint figures to key positions, including the judiciary.

It would also allow the president to be a member of a political party, which is currently prohibited under the constitution as the presidency is expected to exercise impartiality.

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