Europe

Turkey election: Opposition boycotts parliament oath

Turkish MPs stand for the national anthem during the swearing-in ceremony in the Turkish parliament in Ankara, 28 June
Image caption The swearing-in ceremony went ahead

Opposition parties in Turkey have boycotted the swearing-in of the new parliament after judges barred nine elected MPs from taking their seats.

The biggest opposition party, the secular CHP, joined pro-Kurdish members in shunning the swearing-in ceremony at the parliament in Ankara.

The ruling AKP won this month's polls but is under pressure to consult the opposition on big policy decisions.

One such decision is the drafting of a new constitution.

The election was widely praised as a sign of Turkey's political maturity but Tuesday's boycott has exposed old fault-lines that still threaten the country's democratic development, the BBC's Jonathan Head reports from Istanbul.

Threat to stability

A series of judicial decisions stripped one MP of his seat and barred eight others from attending parliament because they were in prison, on charges that critics say are politically motivated.

The opposition parties argue that the jailed MPs are entitled to parliamentary immunity because they are still on trial and have not been convicted.

CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu accused the judges of favouring the government.

"We cannot talk about democracy in a country where judges base their decisions on the government's interest, not universal principles of justice," he said.

The CHP won 135 seats in the 550-seat parliament.

The pro-Kurdish BDP refused even to attend the opening session of parliament, after the election board transferred one of the 36 seats it had won to the AKP.

The MP who lost his seat had been convicted of making statements supporting the Kurdish insurgent movement, the PKK, something all BDP candidates did during the campaign.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised the opposition parties for nominating jailed candidates.

"Could they not have found other candidates?" he asked on Monday. "They nominated these people knowing that it would cause such a problem."

A continued boycott by the BDP could re-ignite the conflict in the Kurdish south-east, our correspondent says.

The CHP boycott will also make it difficult for Mr Erdogan to start working on the new constitution, which he has called the top priority of his government.

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