Parliamentary punch-up in Ankara

Fights broke out in the Turkish parliament during an overnight debate on a bill which potentially allows government influence over the selection of its judiciary.

Following an outcry against the bill, the President mediated by saying that the bill should be introduced as a series of amendments to be agreed by all parties.

However, this move backfired when, during an epic 20 hour debate over the bill in parliament, a fight broke out between two opposing party members.

MP Ali Ihsan Kokturk, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), ended up with a bloodied nose while ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP), Bayram Ozcelik’s finger was broken.

Kokturk denounced the bill, describing as the bill, which gives the Justice Ministry greater powers over the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) as “unlawful.”

Nevertheless, the bill was passed on Saturday morning with 210 votes in favour and 28 against. The bill was introduced against a background of uproar by the opposition and the international community who say that it undermines the independence of the judiciary and will hinder Turkey’s progress in its bid to join the EU.

The new law was introduced following the outbreak of a corruption investigation on 17th December, 2013 which allegedly involved 4 government ministers and led to a hasty reshuffle of the Cabinet.

Prime Minister Erdogan, has displaced culpability by accusing the ‘Hizmet’ movement founded by former ally, US-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, of launching the corruption and graft investigations via a “parallel state” which, he says, seeks to displace him and undermine the ruling AK party.

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