Erdogan sworn in as Turkey's president with vast new powers

10 July, 2018, 06:24 | Author: Regina Silva
  • President Edgar Lungu confers with Vice President Inonge Wina before departure for Turkey at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was "entering a new era" as he was sworn in as the country's first executive president on Monday, giving him sweeping new powers which critics warn will lead to authoritarianism.

"We make a promise once more to strengthen our nation's unity and brotherhood and to continue making our country great and glorifying our state", Erdoğan said after visiting the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Turkish republic's founder, in the capital, Ankara.

Mr Erdogan's new position marks a transition away from a parliamentary system and the office of prime minister, which has been in place since the foundation of the modern Turkish republic 95 years ago.

Erdogan will face immediate and major challenges in his second term, posed by an imbalanced fast-growing economy and foreign policy tensions between the West and Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member.

Erdogan, who has dominated Turkish politics for 15 years, says the powerful new executive presidency is vital to drive economic growth, ensure security after a failed 2016 military coup and safeguard the country from conflict in Syria and Iraq. Marc Pierini, a former European Union ambassador to Turkey and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, said Erdogan's new powers would effectively make him a "super-executive president".

In a tweet, Maduro hailed Erdogan as a "friend of Venezuela and leader of the new multi-polar world".

He will then head to more challenging encounters at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels where he will meet with United States counterpart Donald Trump.

The new system was agreed in a bitterly fought 2017 referendum, but the changes have been vehemently denounced by the opposition.

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The president now sits at the top of a vertical power structure marked by a slimmed-down government with 16 ministries instead of 26 and multiple bodies reporting to him.

Emre Erdogan, professor of political science at Istanbul's Bilgi University, said the parliament's powers were "highly restricted" under the new system.

Erdoğan took the oath of office in a ceremony in the Grand National Assembly, the culmination of almost a decade of political activism to transform the country's parliamentary democracy into a presidential system.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir were among the most notable of around 7,000 guests invited.

Later on Monday, Erdogan will announce his new cabinet, which, he said, will hold its first meeting on Friday.

The most intense attention will focus on who will be responsible for foreign policy and the economy. Erdogan's restructuring is the most significant adjustment of the country's political system since the formal establishment of modern Turkey.

The markets will keep a close eye on economic appointments, keen to see a steady hand at the helm in a fast-growing economy dogged by double-digit inflation and a widening current account deficit.

After winning 52.9 percent of the vote in Turkey's presidential election two weeks ago, Erdogan was granted the ability to call additional elections, appoint judges without parliamentary approval, dissolve Parliament, and issue decrees that had previously been reserved for states of emergency.

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