Turkish Verdict Top Court Rejects Ban of Ruling AKP

The highest court has ruled against a proposed ban of the governing AKP party. A wafer-thin majority of the 11 judges decided to give the government a reprieve, while handing down a warning.


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party was not banned by the country's highest court.
REUTERS

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party was not banned by the country's highest court.

Turkey's highest court said on Wednesday that it will not ban the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), a decision that avoids plunging Turkey into a political crisis.

The Constitutional Court in Ankara instead handed down a warning to the governing party. The presiding judge Hasim Kilic said after three days of deliberations those against the ban had narrowly won out. Six of the 11 judges had wanted to ban the AKP for allegedly trying to steer the country toward Islamic rule. The ban would have required the votes of seven justices. The court did, however, decide to strip the party of half of its state funding.

The decision is a reprieve for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his allies in the Islamic-rooted AKP. A ban would have triggered even more political turmoil in the country just days after two bombs killed 17 people in Istanbul. It would also have severely damaged Turkey's image as a democracy as the country seeks to join the European Union.

The court case was the latest battleground in the power struggle between pious Muslims and the secular establishment. Tensions had increased after the AKP attempted to overturn a ban on the wearing of headscarves in universities, a law that was then overturned by the Constitutional Court.

Prosecutors are currently preparing a case against a number of people, including former generals, accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

The AKP, while socially conservative, has embraced many aspects of Western political and economic system and has steered the country towards many reforms. This combination had proved popular, with the party winning 47 percent in the general election last year.

smd/ap

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