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Turkish MPs discuss AKP proposal for presidential direct vote

ANKARA, May 7 (KUNA) -- The Turkish Parliament started on Monday discussions of a proposal by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on amending the constitution to have the country's president elected directly by voters and not by legislators. AKP candidate for a president, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, has failed Sunday for the second time to win the "president" as a quorum of 367 legislators did not attend since the opposition parties' boycotted the parliamentary vote. Gul opt for withdrawal.
Gul said that he had withdrawn as there was no use carrying on with the especially that the opposition parties insisted on boycotting the vote. He criticized them for their absence, an act not fit for democracy not decent politics.
He added that he abandoned the candidacy for a president and that it would be up to the people to decide.
Gul's nomination for the post had triggered a political crisis in Turkey between liberals and the Islamic parties due to the fear that an "Islamist" would be at the helm.
However, Gul's withdrawal is not the end, but the start of a wider conflict as the political parties have prepared themselves compete with the AK Party which enjoys highest rates of popularity.
The AKP believes that amending the constitution would help their candidate to be the President due to Party's popularity among Islamists and moderates.
Analysts believe Gul has realized a victory through withdrawal because it will make him gain more popularity together with his party in the forthcoming early elections. To them he has been exposed to prejudice just as he is a Muslim and his wife wears a Hijab. (end) tb.mar KUNA 071702 May 07NNNN