Erdogan urges Turkey's new parliament to address constitution

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President Recep Tayyip ErdoganImage source, AFP
Image caption,
President Erdogan was giving his first major speech since his AK Party won the parliamentary elections

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey's parliament should prioritise discussions on a new constitution, following his AK Party's electoral triumph.

Mr Erdogan said that constitutional change was one of the most important messages of Sunday's result.

He has long wanted to strengthen the powers of the presidency.

But critics have warned it could strengthen what they see as his authoritarian tendencies.

The AKP regained its parliamentary majority in the snap election on Sunday, but still fell 13 seats short of the number of MPs required to call a referendum on the constitution.

In his first major speech since the victory, Mr Erdogan said Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu would consult opposition leaders on getting support for rewriting the constitution.

The president warned opponents against resisting the move.

He also vowed that Turkey's operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) would continue.

Two soldiers and 15 PKK militants were killed in fighting in a village in Turkey's south-eastern Hakkari province on the Iraqi border on Wednesday, according to the Turkish military.

The clashes erupted a day after Turkey carried out air strikes in the area.

The AKP's victory on Sunday came amid concerns about increasing violence and curbs on media freedom.

The party won 317 of the 550 seats in parliament. Calling a referendum on the constitution would require 330 seats, while changing it without a referendum would require 367 seats.

President Erdogan wants to diminish the role of the parliamentary system and introduce a presidential system.

Such a move would enable him to attach more powers to the presidency, which is largely a ceremonial role.

Earlier on Wednesday, a spokesman said Mr Erdogan believed the move would make Turkey "jump up a league".