Erdogan approves law removing immunity for MPs
Supporters of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) flash victory signs and shout slogans against government on June 5, 2016 in Istanbul during a rally on the lawmakers' immunity. (AFP/Ozan Kose)
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signed a law removing immunity for MPs, a move his critics say is aimed solely at evicting pro-Kurdish lawmarkers from parliament, AFP reported.
Erdogan approved the measure, drafted and sponsored by Erdogan's Justice and Development Paryt (AKP), less than a month after parliament adopted the controversial reform. The new law lifts the immunity of 138 deputies from all parties facing potential prosecution.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) says the law is aimed at expelling its members from parliament. Erdogan views the HDP as a front for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) against whom the Turkish military has been involved in an intense military campaign in the southeast.
As a result of the reform, dozens of HDP lawmakers could face criminal prosecution and lose their parliamentary seats on allegations of supporting the PKK.
Should enough HDP MPs lose their seats, it could pave the way for Erdogan to have a sufficient AKP majority in parliament to change the constitution to a presidential system, further expanding his powers.
HDP's co-leader Selahettin Demirtas said he was "not afraid of being put on trial," but that the accusations against his party stemmed from "political revenge."
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