AKP promises in its election manifesto to keep state of emergency in effect

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announces his ruling AK Party's manifesto for the next month's elections in Ankara, on May 24, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which released its election manifesto for the June 24 general election on Thursday, has promised to keep a state of emergency declared following a coup attempt in 2016,in effect despite calls to end it.

AKP leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan introduced the AKP’s election manifesto, titled “Strong Parliament, Strong Government, Strong Turkey,” during a meeting at the Ankara Sports Hall.

Although Erdoğan did not make any mention of it in a speech in which he unveiled the details of the manifesto, the text of the manifesto, comprising 360 pages, says the AKP does not plan to terminate the state of emergency any time soon.

The election manifesto says the AKP will keep the state of emergency in place until “our national security and the peace of our citizens are fully maintained.”

The state of emergency was declared for three months on July 20, 2016 due to a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. It has so far been extended seven times, the last time being in April.

The state of emergency has granted Erdoğan and his government extraordinary powers. Under it, the government has pressed ahead with many controversial decrees that have the force of law and are not required to be approved by Parliament. In line with these decrees, more than 150,000 people have been purged from state bodies on coup charges.

Turkey will hold snap presidential and general elections on June 24. The AKP, which first came to power as a single party in 2002, wants to rule alone again for the fifth time amid widespread claims of corruption and authoritarianism.

Turkey is switching from a parliamentary to a presidential system of governance, abolishing the office of the prime minister and decreasing the powers of Parliament, following a narrowly approved referendum in April 2017. The changes take effect with the elections in June.

In his speech Erdoğan promised that Turkey would have better economic and political relations with the EU and the US at a time when relations have been strained with both over the past years due to a number of disagreements.

Erdoğan’s government attracts constant criticism from the EU and the US due to rampant human rights violations and the curbing of free speech in Turkey, particularly after the coup attempt.

The president also promised more freedoms and justice if the AKP comes to power again, adding that Turkey would also play a leading role in the world with more freedoms and justice.

Turkey, which has more than 250 jailed journalists and media workers, is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released in April by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

As with the Turkish judiciary, the AKP government is being harshly criticized for taking it under its strict control.

There were no new promises regarding the Kurds, Alevis, Roma or non-Muslims in Turkey in the AKP’s election manifesto except for the promise of granting legal status to Alevi houses of worship, or cemevis, but what kind of a legal status it would be was not specified.

Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate does not recognize cemevis as houses of worship despite the fact that the directorate is funded by taxpayer money, including taxes paid by Alevis.

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