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Turkey PM says ready to drop judiciary bill with conditions

AFP , Tuesday 14 Jan 2014
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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday his government was ready to withdraw a contentious bill curbing the power of judges -- on certain conditions.

"If the opposition agrees to constitutional changes governing this issue (the judiciary), we will freeze the proposal and if necessary will stop it from reaching the full parliament," Erdogan told his party in parliament.

It was not immediately clear what the constitutional amendments would contain.

Erdogan's comments came a day after President Abdullah Gul intervened personally to try to defuse the crisis over the bill, holding talks with political leaders including the prime minister.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag was also due to meet with opposition parties on Tuesday, which the Turkish premier said would be "influential" in resolving the row.

The legislation being pushed by Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was calling for the government to have more say in the appointment of judges and prosecutors.

The top independent judicial body, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) -- which currently appoints judges -- branded the government proposals as unconstitutional, a charge dismissed by Erdogan.

Erdogan has moved to rein in the HSYK after a bribery and corruption operation launched in December that targeted several close allies.

Erdogan accuses supporters of exiled Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen -- who hold key posts in the police and judiciary -- of instigating the investigation as a plot to weaken his government ahead of March local elections 

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