TURKEY

Turkish assembly to debate parliamentary rule changes

TURKISH ASSEMBLY TO DEBATE PARLIAMENTARY RULE CHANGES

Turkish deputies will debate a series of changes to the way parliament operates later Monday.

Lawmakers are due to debate a series of changes to the way parliament operates later Monday as the country prepares to move towards a presidential system.

Deputies are to vote on 18 points that cover a range of bylaws, from the attire of the parliamentary speaker to the amount of time they can debate a law.

The proposed changes were accepted by parliament's Constitutional Committee last week after being tabled by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and the National Movement Party (MHP) in the face of criticism from the two other parliamentary parties.

One of the proposals will reduce the amount of time lawmakers can debate a parliamentary motion from 40 minutes to 14 minutes -- five minutes for the deputy proposing the motion and three minutes each for a deputy from the other three parties.

In other debates, the length of time a lawmaker speaks will also be cut from 10 minutes to three minutes.

The planned changes would also impose heavy penalties on lawmakers who do not swear the correct parliamentary oath. Those who fail to make the pledge at the beginning of a new parliament will not be recognized as a deputy of the Grand National Assembly.

"Lawmakers who refrain from giving an oath will not benefit from the privileges that come from being a lawmaker," according to the proposals.

In the past, lawmakers such as Leyla Zana, a Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy who altered the oath to include a phrase in Kurdish, have refused to utter the prescribed oath.

The planned bylaws would also regulate lawmakers' comments and fine or suspend those who insult the president, parliament or the parliamentary speaker as well as deputies who criticize the history of the Republic of Turkey or the country's "constitutional order".

These penalties can also be applied to deputies who use terms contrary to the "indivisible integrity of the state with its territory and nation".

The changes also deal with the attire of the assembly's speaker -- doing away with his coat-tails and white bow-tie.

Other measures propose penalties for bringing a weapon or banner into parliament as well as setting out deputies' working hours.

The planned bylaws follow last April's referendum, which approved constitutional changes that gave wide-ranging executive powers to the president.

They are expected to be ratified by the end of the week before a summer recess that will run until Oct. 1.

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