Opposition party CHP initiates ‘Democracy Watch’ in Turkish Parliament

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CHP deputy Özgür Özel

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman Özgür Özel said his party decided to spend the night in Parliament yesterday in protest of new bylaws, the t24 news website reported on Thursday.

Underlining his concerns about deputies being denied the right to speak even before the bylaws were approved, Özel said only 21 out of 55 CHP deputies who wanted to speak about the bylaws in the general assembly were allotted time to do so.

“In order to explain what the new bylaws will bring and how the voice of the opposition is being silenced, we decided, as the CHP, not to leave Parliament and to let each one of our deputies speak without any time limitation… We are on a democracy watch in Parliament,” said Özel in an interview with Halk TV.

CHP Istanbul deputy Eren Erdem shared a message on social media yesterday and said: “We are not leaving the TBMM [Turkish Grand National Assembly]. We are resisting against those who are seizing the opposition’s right to speak.”

Özel covered the podium in Parliament with a black cloth before addressing the general assembly on Tuesday in order to protest the new bylaws, claiming they would restrict opposition in the legislature.

Underlining that the podium is a symbol of free speech for all lawmakers, Özel said the new bylaws silence the voice of the opposition in Parliament by restricting the speaking time against proposals by the government and limiting movements of the opposition against the government.

On July 19 Parliament passed new bylaws proposed by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies.

The new bylaws have been the subject of criticism by the opposition for restricting the time allotted to opposition deputies in Parliament and limiting opposition against the ruling party.

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