Friday, July 18, 2008

'Don't ban AKP' rapporteur tells top court

Friday, July 18, 2008

The rapporteur for the Constitutional Court recommended not banning the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, in a report submitted to the court's president late Wednesday.

Constitutional Court President Haşim Kılıç said the report is being distributed to court members and he will consult the other judges before setting a date for the verdict.

Rapporteur Osman Can asked the court not to ban the AKP from political activity, arguing that charges of anti-secular activity that fall under freedom of expression cannot be grounds for closure. According to Turkish media reports, the rapporteur reminded the court that in Western democracies only committing violence is considered a solid basis for party closure. The AKP, in its defense, has rejected all the charges, describing them as "fictional" and politically motivated.

It was further noted in the report that according to the Venice Commission criteria, a set of guidelines for party closure in Europe, blaming the AKP for Parliament's constitutional amendment lifting the ban on the Islamic headscarf in universities which was later scraped by the top court would be considered unjust.
The rapporteur also argued that since conditions for closure are not met, the 71 party officials, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül, cannot be barred from party politics for five years.

The conclusion of the report raised expectations in Ankara for an early August verdict. Political observers argue that the verdict will be announced just after the Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, completes its annual Aug. 1-4 meeting. However, the president of the court denied claims that they will wait for the end of the YAŞ meeting and said, “We make arrangements only according to our own procedures and program.”

Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya launched proceedings in March, arguing that the AKP had become a "focal point" of anti-secular activity aimed at installing an Islamist regime. He also asked the court to bar 71 AKP officials, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül, from party politics for five years.Most political analysts expect the party to be outlawed and some members, including Erdoğan, banned from belonging to a party for five years. AK Party representatives suggest a ruling is unlikely before August.The European Union has criticised the case and a move against a democratically elected party could hurt Turkey's accession process.

If the AKP is closed and Erdoğan removed from power analysts expect an early parliamentary election will follow.

Day opening - July 18

Destroyed Buddha by Taliban, 2004.

Afghanistan's puritanical Taliban Islamic militia demolishing statues across the country including two towering ancient stone Buddhas.
Former Taliban Minister of Information and Culture Qudratullah Jamal told AFP the destruction of scores of pre-Islamic figures, designed to stop the worshipping of "false idols," had begun throughout the country.