Turkish General Staff Wants Secular President


01.08.2007 15:19 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkish military repeats its view for a secular
president on the eve of the presidential elections. The government has
no intention to reply the military’s concerns Late Monday, Turkey’s
powerful military stated they have not changed their demand for a
president secular not in words but in deeds – a move which could
re-escalate the tension between the government and the Turkish Armed
Forces (TSK).

"We are still behind what we said on April 12. There is no change on
that," Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, Chief of General Staff, told reporters
late Monday on the occasion of a Turkish Cypriot Armed Forces’ Day
reception. This was Gen. Buyukanit’s first comment after the general
elections in which votes for the ruling Justice and Development Party
(AKP) increased by 12 points from five years ago.

The military warned the government on April 12 and 27 to be sensitive
in electing a president who upholds the secular values of the
country. Following the military’s e-memo posted on the official
website the day of the first round of presidential elections, the
ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed in electing their
candidate, Abdullah Gul, whose wife wearing headscarf.

Buyukanit’s words are a clear sign that the military will not change
its stance despite the outcome of the general elections. The AKP
increased its votes and many argued that the reason of the increase
was the military’s interference in politics. I don’t share this idea,
said Buyukanit.

Abdullah Gul signaled his candidacy and the Nationalist Movement Party
(MHP) declared that they wouldn’t block the presidential election
rounds. The AKP has the chance to elect Gul in the third round where
276 votes are sufficient. The presidential election process will
start mid Aug. and must be completed within 30 days. Otherwise the
Parliament risks being dissolved and having a new round the general
elections, the Turkish Daily news reports.

According to the Turkish Constitution, the President is elected by the
parliament. If it fails three times, pre-term parliamentary elections
are organized. The AKP, however, proposed to elect the head of the
state via a national vote.