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Erdogan assumes sweeping new powers after being sworn in

Sheetal Sukhija - Tuesday 10th July, 2018

ANKARA, Istanbul - Backed by sweeping new powers he won in a referendum last year, the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who won the re-election two weeks back, was sworn in on Monday.

Having dominated Turkish political for 15 years, Erdogan now holds powerful new executive presidency, which he claims is vital to drive economic growth, ensure security after a failed 2016 military coup and safeguard the country from conflict in Syria and Iraq.

Addressing the parliament on Monday as he took the oath of office, Erdogan said, “As president, I swear upon my honor and integrity, before the great Turkish nation and history, to work with all my power to protect and exalt the glory and honor of the Republic of Turkey.”

The entire house, minus some opposition parliamentarians stood in his support and some of his supporters even gave him a minute-long standing ovation after he took the oath.

According to experts, the introduction of the new presidential system marks the biggest overhaul of governance since the Turkish republic was established on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago.

Under the new system, the post of prime minister has been scrapped.

Further, the president would not require the parliament approval anymore and can select his own cabinet, regulate ministries and remove civil servants.

According to the President’s supporters, the changes are a just reward for Erdogan , who they claim has put Islamic values at the core of public life, championed the pious working classes.

Supporters also claim that Erdogan has overseen years of strong economic growth.

Over the weekend, Erdogan reportedly told his ruling AK Party, "Turkey is entering a new era with the presidential oath ceremony on Monday. With the power granted to us by the new presidential system, we will get quicker and stronger results."

However, opponents have argued that the move marks a lurch to authoritarianism, and have accused Erdogan of eroding the secular institutions set up by modern Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Further, they blame him for driving the country further from Western values of democracy and free speech.

A report in the State television channel TRT broadcast declared that Erdogan’s swearing-in was the “first day of the new Turkey.”

On Monday, the lira, which gained more than 1 percent earlier to 4.51 against the dollar, briefly fell back sharply after a government decree removed a clause stipulating a five-year term for the central bank governor.

Local reports noted that Erdogan is set to participate in a presidential palace ceremony for more than 7,000 guests, including Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Soon after, he is expected to name a streamlined cabinet of 16 ministers.

On the eve of Monday's inauguration, authorities fired over 18,000 state employees, most of them from the police and army.

The government said this would be the final decree under emergency rule imposed following a failed 2016 coup.

Turkey's interior minister announced in April that over 150,000 state employees have lost their jobs in the crackdown following the coup attempt and some 77,000 have been formally charged and kept in jail during their trials.

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