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Erdogan approves Turkey's constitutional reform bill

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Erdogan approves Turkeys constitutional reform bill
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Ankara: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan approved on Friday constitutional amendments that will bring drastic changes to the country's political system, including a shift to an executive presidential system from the current parliamentary system.

The package will now be put to a referendum, likely on April 16, in accordance with a date to be selected by the Supreme Election Board (YSK), Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The Turkish Parliament sent the constitutional amendments for the President's approval on February 2, 12 days after passing it, exceeding the 330-vote threshold to bring it to a referendum.

"I hope 'sovereignty [will] rest unconditionally with the nation' on April 16 when the referendum will be held," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said.

Kurtulmus said the Turkish people, including those who will vote Yes or No, would express their opinion in the referendum. "I hope that this election campaign will continue in line with the mature democracy of Turkey," he said.

The constitutional amendment brings a strong partisan presidential system that will take over all authorities of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The minimum age for parliamentary candidates would be reduced to 18 and the number of lawmakers will rise to 600.

The reform would give the President the authority to annul Parliament, issue decrees, declare an election as well as emergency rule, appoint ministers and top state officials -- powers that the two main Opposition parties say strip away balances to Erdogan's power.

Simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections for a five-year term in Turkey would be held in November 2019.

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