Extension of Turkish state of emergency gets legislative backing

An extension of Turkey's state of emergency - set in place after an attempted coup in July - has received parliamentary approval, the Anadolu news agency reported Wednesday.

The late Tuesday vote, which had been seen as a formality, was backed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The extension was approved by the cabinet last week.

AKP votes would have been sufficient to approve the extension. The opposition centre-left People's Republican Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) voted against the extension.

Without the extension, the state of emergency would end on Tuesday. It will now last until January 15. The state of emergency gives President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the ability to rule by decree.

A group of soldiers attempted to take over the government in July, but were beaten back after a night of fighting. The government has accused supporters of the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Gulen denies any involvement, but Turkey is seeking his extradition.

In the aftermath of the coup, Turkey has purged tens of thousands of soldiers, civil servants, journalists and teachers from their jobs. It also implemented the state of emergency as a way to combat any further unrest.

Nearly 50 HDP members were taken into custody Wednesday in the second round of police raids against the party in two days, according to a party official.

The 49 politicians - most of them provincial or municipal officials - were picked up in raids in the provinces of Van and Hakkari, according to Merdan Berk, a spokesman for the DBP, a regional party affiliated with HDP.

Police had arrested 32 HDP members on Tuesday. They are all accused of membership in the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an organization considered a terrorist group by Turkey and with which Turkey has been in conflict for most of the last few decades.

Erdogan has, in the past, referred to the HDP as an extension of the PKK. HDP members insist there are no ties between the two.

The PKK has been fighting for decades to lift Turkish control of Kurdish regions. The more mainstream HDP says it seeks simply to promote Kurdish rights within Turkey.

Although there had been some efforts to improve Turkish-Kurd ties in recent years, even leading to a brief PKK-Turkish ceasefire, relations have deteriorated in the last year, with a return to open warfare.

In September, Turkey put numerous DBP-run governments under federal administration, removing local officials from office.

In further coup fallout, more than 200 members of the Turkish armed forces were dishonourably discharged Wednesday, reported the Dogan news agency.

The move affects 233 people, including 158 officers. The discharge brings the number of people removed from the army since July 15 to 3,939.

Last update: Wed, 12/10/2016 - 16:33

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