Turkey opposition leader blasts Erdogan's 'counter coup'

AFP , Friday 30 Sep 2016

Turkey's main opposition party leader on Friday accused the government of seeking to capitalise on the July 15 coup to stifle dissent, and vowed to oppose moves to extend a three-month state of emergency.

Tens of thousands accused of links to the group led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed by authorities for the attempted coup, have been detained or dismissed from their jobs in a relentless crackdown following the coup.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP), accused the government of using the July 15 attempted putsch to "stage another coup, a coup against democracy."

The government has imposed a three-month state of emergency after the botched coup, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested there might be a need to extend the measure even up to a year.

But Kilicdaroglu said: "We are in a process where the government is using the coup to expand its power and silence the opposition."

Up to 32,000 suspects have been remanded in custody, according to government figures.

Arrests include top former generals accused of organising the coup but also people from every sector of life ranging from sweet pastry magnates to former footballers.

Several prominent journalists and writers have also been placed under arrest, including the journalist Ahmet Altan and his brother Mehmet, an academic.

"Why are you putting handcuffs on journalists? Why do you detain intellectuals?" asked Kilicdaroglu.

Kilicdaroglu said his party would not support the state of emergency when it comes before the 550-seat parliament dominated by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The CHP has 134 seats. As a result, the measure is likely to pass with the support of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

"Today the ruling party can shut down any newspaper it wants, push any businessmen it wants to bankruptcy or seize their assets under emergency laws," he told reporters in Istanbul.

"This is a serious threat to democracy. Our first priority will be to keep the state of emergency as short as possible."

His comments mark a crumbling of the solidarity with the government shown by the CHP and MHP in the aftermath of the coup, which extended to even attending a pro-Erdogan mass rally.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) was never invited to the meetings.

Kilicdaroglu promised to stand by victims of the coup who ended up in court, including the over 100 journalists who according to activists are currently jailed.

"What will we do against the counter coup? We will fight," he said.

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