Turkey PM denies rift with Erdogan and calls for presidential system

AFP , Saturday 28 Mar 2015

Turkey should adopt a presidential system, the country's Prime Minister has declared, refuting claims that he and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were at loggerheads over the idea.

The statement comes after a major rift between Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the run up to the June 7 parliamentary election where the AKP will seek to change the constitution to give Erdogan's office more executive powers.

"If the president was elected by a public vote, it would be correct for this system to switch to a presidential one," Ahmet Davutoglu said in an interview with private Haberturk television late Friday.

"A presidential system is the right thing for Turkey," he said.

Davutoglu said the current system was causing confusion over power sharing and it should either be a clear parliamentary system or a clear presidential one so that whoever has power is held accountable.

"Our president is right: it shouldn't be half-parliamentary or half-presidential," he said, adding that there was "no disagreement at all" between him and Erdogan since they were "old friends".

Erdogan, who led the Turkish government for 11 years, has stretched the powers of the once-ceremonial presidency since winning it in August last year in the first ever direct vote, with opponents warning of his growing authoritarianism.

Davutoglu said the move to a powerful presidency would be included in the AKP's election manifesto, saying he "personally wrote it" -- an apparent attempt to show that he was acting independently as Erdogan is still seen as pulling the strings in the party.

Former foreign minister Davutoglu was expected by some observers to have been a mere puppet of president, but he is now showing ambition to be a high profile prime minister.

An unprecedented rift emerged last week between Erdogan and the government over the handling of the peace process to end the decades-long armed struggle by Kurdish militants.

Deputy Prime Minister and AKP co-founder Bulent Arinc told Erdogan to "stop interfering" in government business but the president snapped back that he had no intention of staying out of politics.

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