Turkish parliament committee gives up on new constitution

Drafting a new constitution was among Erdogan’s election pledges in 2011

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A parliamentary commission set up to draft a new constitution for Turkey has failed and will be dissolved, a senior ruling party official said on Monday, scuppering one of the key pledges of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s third term in office.

The cross-party panel had been working on replacing the current constitution, a text born of a 1980 coup which, despite numerous revisions, still bears the stamp of military tutelage.

“Our parliamentary speaker expressed his view that it will not be possible to draft a new constitution and will inform the leaders of the four political parties of this by letter,” Mehmet Ali Sahin, a deputy head of the ruling AK Party, told reporters.

Drafting a new constitution was among Erdogan’s election pledges in 2011 and the commission, including the social democratic CHP, pro-Kurdish BHP and nationalist MHP opposition parties, had been working on a new law for two years.

From the definition of Turkish citizenship to the protection of religious freedoms, the articles under review go to the heart of some of the most deeply divisive issues in modern Turkey and the sticking points were many.

The four parties had only reached agreement on around 60 articles, less than half of what a draft would require, and the talks had been deadlocked over recent weeks.

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