Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told Turkey’s judges on March 23 they had no right to oppose constitutional reform plans that pit him against a secular elite alarmed by what it sees as growing Islamist influence. The proposed changes would give the president more control over appointment of judges to the Constitutional Court, make it harder to ban political parties, and make military personnel liable to prosecution in civil, rather than military courts. Opponents accuse the AK Party, which has a huge majority in parliament, of using liberal reform as a cover for efforts to consolidate its power and promote a secret Islamist agenda. They threaten to ask the Constitutional Court to block the package. Senior judges joined a chorus of criticism on March 22, one charging that the changes would encroach on the principle of separation of powers. But Erdogan, who also faces opposition from the armed forces over allegations of coup plots by military officers, suggested it was that very separation that the judges were challenging by entering into political debate. (Reuters)

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