Kurdish Islamic Party Says Yes to Turkey’s New Constitution

The Hur Dava Party (Huda Par), a Kurdish Sunni Islamic party in Turkey, announced on Wednesday that they will join the “Yes” camp in the April 16 referendum on constitutional reforms in the country which will pave the way for a presidential system to replace of the current parliamentarian one.

Zekeriya Yapıcıoğlu, head of the party, told reporters in a press conference that despite the fact that the reforms do not fully reflect his party’s expectations, they will vote yes to change the “coup constitution” with one that could bring in a more representative constitution in the future.

Yapıcıoğlu said that his party would like a constitution that respects everyone and every component of Turkish society, but told supporters that making such changes were not possible in the short time available.

“But the current social and political situation is not suitable or supportive to make this project happen in a short time,” Yapıcıoğlu said.

The party has a small support base, compared to the secular pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) which won 59 seats in the November 2015 snap elections.

HDP is rallying support for the “No” campaign.

The banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), also calling for a “No” vote, has a long history of armed clashes with Huda Par, which is an extension of Hezbollah. Bloody clashes resurfaced in October 2014 when street protests over the AKP’s silence over ISIS attacks on the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobane brought the PKK and Huda Par into direct confrontation. Dozens were killed from both sides.

Previous Turkish governments used Hezbollah as a tool to fight PKK in 1990s.

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed the constitutional amendments that were passed by the Turkish parliament last month. The reforms drastically change the current parliamentary system into an executive presidency, giving the president unprecedented powers, including naming the government cabinet and proposing the annual budget.

The proposed constitution also allows the president to maintain ties to a political party. President Erdoğan was obliged to officially give up leading the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) when he became president in 2014, in line with the current constitution.

The Turkish people will vote on the changes to the constitution in a national referendum to be held on April 16.

The constitutional reforms are fiercely opposed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the HDP, the second opposition party in the country.

The CHP has said that the changes amount to a regime change, a phrase that the president has strongly opposed.

If approved by Turkish voters, it may pave the way for President Erdoğan to stay in power until 2029 as he would have the right to stand in presidential elections for two more terms under the new constitution.

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