Turkey opposition leader promises 'first-class democracy'

AFP , Sunday 19 Apr 2015

Turkey's main opposition leader pledged on Sunday to introduce a "first-class democracy" and eradicate poverty as he announced a election manifesto ahead of the June legislative poll.

"You have my word. We will bring first-class democracy to this country," Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the secular Republican People's Party (CHP) told party supporters in Ankara.

The CHP leader accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of undermining fundamental freedoms including freedoms of religion, media and judiciary and promised to enshrine democracy through a strong parliamentary system.

"We will proceed on our path by strengthening our parliamentary experience," he said.

The June 7 election is being seen as a key moment in modern Turkish history, with the AKP seeking a majority that would allow it to change the constitution and switch to a presidential system in which the head of state enjoys full executive powers.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who ruled Turkey from 2003-2014 as premier, has already transformed the once largely ceremonial role of the presidency since taking office in August.

But he has long been accused by his opponents of being increasingly authoritarian and intolerant of criticism.

The CHP leader on Sunday also pledged to eradicate poverty.

"There are 17 million poor people," he said. "I give you word of honour. There will be no poor people left in Turkey in four years."

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