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Turkey's Erdogan signals referendum on executive presidency

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed interest in expanding presidential powers through a national referendum. The president's spokesperson said the move wouldn't be for Erdogan, but for Turkey's future.

Erdogan's spokesman said on Wednesday that if necessary, the government would hold a national referendum on an executive presidency.

"An issue like the presidential system can't be decided without the nation. If the mechanism requires a referendum, then we will hold a referendum," said Ibrahim Kalin, spokesperson for the Turkish presidency, at a press conference in Ankara.

"The executive presidency is not a question of our president's personal future. He has already entered the history books. The basic motivation is to make the system in Turkey as effective as possible," Kalin added.

The statement comes as Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) swept Sunday's snap elections after losing its 13-year majority in June.

The AKP gained 317 out of 550 seats in the Turkish parliament.

However, Erdogan's party is 13 seats shy of the 330 needed to change the constitution in favor of an executive presidency.

Watch video 02:06

Turkey elections: AKP reclaims majority

'Another league'

"We have a clear opinion that the presidential system will help Turkey jump to another league," Kalin said.

Erdogan's spokesperson said that Turkey's foreign policy would not change following Sunday's election.

Turkey will continue its "open-door" policy towards Syrian refugees, whether or not the EU provides financial assistance, said Kalin.

Kalin also said that Turkey would continue to fight the Kurdistan Workers' Party "with determination."


The AK party, which Erdogan founded, won Sunday's election with almost half the vote

The AK party, which Erdogan founded, won Sunday's election with almost half the vote

Earlier Sunday, Turkish authorities said they arrested nine suspected members of the "Islamic State" militant group for planning attacks on a political party in Ankara and an opposition newspaper, Cumhuriyet.

Since the summer of 2015, Turkey has boosted efforts to curb the "Islamic State" militant group's presence, launching airstrikes in Syria.

However, Ankara has also been criticized for launching military operations against the Kurds in northern Iraq and Syria, where the Kurdish forces made significant gains against the militant group.

ls/jil (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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