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Turkey's Erdogan approves referendum on increasing powers to presidency

11 February 2017

However the election board has yet to officially announce the date.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the referendum would likely take place on April 16.

President Erdogan signed off on the reform bill on Friday, clearing the way for a national referendum on major constitutional changes that would usher in a powerful presidency. "I sincerely believe that Turkey will shift to a management model with a more active administration that will provide political and economic stability in full", Kurtulmuş said.

The Bill envisions granting the office of the presidency - now a largely ceremonial position - the power to appoint government ministers and senior officials, dissolve parliament, declare states of emergency, issue decrees and appoint half of the members in the country's highest judicial body.

Ankara accuses Gulen of orchestrating an attempted coup in Turkey last July.

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Under the new constitution, the president will have strengthened executive powers to directly appoint top public officials including ministers.

The referendum campaign is due to formally kick off on February 25, with Kurtulmus expressing hope that it would reflect "the maturity of Turkish democracy".

The ruling Justice and Development Party, backed by the Nationalist Movement Party, says it will bring the strong executive leadership needed to prevent a return to the fragile coalition governments of the past.

Erdogan said a "Turkish-type presidential system" would replace the current, two-headed system, in which there is both a president and prime minister. "We believe that our nation will substantially say "yes" to this proposal".

But there have been suggestions that the clock on his presidency will start from zero from 2019 as the new constitution creates a new presidential role.