Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has called on the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Monitoring Committee to “to mind its own business” after the continental body expressed concerns over the freedom and fairness of the country’s snap elections, recommending that the polls be postponed.
“The Parliamentary Assembly should mind its own business. It is not up them to say who will hold elections and when. Turkey has held hundreds of elections with turnouts not below 85 percent,” the Turkish premier told journalists at a joint press conference with his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy in the Spanish capital of Madrid on Tuesday.
On Friday, Turkey’s parliament passed a motion to hold snap presidential and parliamentary elections in the country on June 24, previously slated to be held next year. Two days earlier, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said that a faster switch to an executive presidency was urgently needed to help Turkey overcome its current problems, especially those in Syria, where Ankara has a controversial military presence.
The new executive presidency system, which was narrowly approved in a referendum last year, will give Erdogan much more power in leading the Anatolian country.
Yildirim’s strong reaction came after the European council, in a statement issued earlier in the day, claimed that the legitimacy of the polls was at stake after Ankara extended a state of emergency imposed following an attempted military coup in mid-2016 and introduced a new electoral system in March.
“All these factors combined seriously challenge the democratic nature of the elections,” the council said, urging Turkish authorities to postpone the vote.
The premier’s comments also echoed the tensions over last year’s controversial plebiscite in Turkey on the new presidential powers, when some European countries barred Turkish politicians from holding campaign rallies on their territories and voiced concern that the referendum would purportedly push the country closer to authoritarian rule.
Meanwhile, government spokesman Bekir Bozdag also lambasted the council’s statement as unacceptable, saying it was “clear intervention in Turkey’s internal affairs.”
Under the state of emergency, Turkey has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.
Tens of thousands of people have been arrested across the country and over 140,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists, have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.
The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.