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Turkish parliament erupts in fistfight over judicial reforms

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Turkey’s parliament passed a bill on Saturday tightening government control over the judiciary, amid a violent brawl that left one lawmaker hospitalised.

Fists and insults flew between ruling party and opposition lawmakers as the bill was debated in a marathon 20-hour sitting.

When an opposition deputy called Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan a dictator, deputies from the leader’s party shouted back “are you drunk?”

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Ali Ihsan Kokturk, lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), got a bloodied nose in the brawl, while ruling party lawmaker Bayram Ozcelik’s finger was broken.

Opposition parties say the reform is a “government manoeuvre” aimed to stifle a graft investigation launched on Dec. 17 in which dozens of prominent business people, the sons of three cabinet ministers, and state officials were questioned.

“The government is in a great hurry, this shows how deep the corruption and bribe allegations are,” Oktay Vural MP for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said.

210 for, 28 against

Parliament resumed debate of the bill Friday despite uproar from opposition parties and the international community who warned it threatened the independence of the judiciary in the European Union hopeful country.

The reform package gives the justice ministry greater sway over the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), an independent body responsible for appointing members of the judiciary.

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It would change the make-up of the HSYK and give the justice minister the right to launch investigations into its members.

The measures were passed on Saturday morning with 210 votes in favour and 28 against.

CHP lawmaker Riza Turmen said his party would challenge the law, which still needs the president’s signature to come into force, before the Constitutional Court.

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“The law is against the general spirit of the constitution that guarantees judicial independence,” he told AFP after the vote.

“HSYK is key to judicial independence. An independent judiciary is only possible with an independent HSYK.”

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Political turmoil

Last month, President Abdullah Gul stepped in to resolve the deadlock by pushing for the judicial reforms to be passed as constitutional amendments, which would require cross-party support.

But the president’s initiative failed after disagreements between ruling and opposition party lawmakers.

Turkey has been in political turmoil since the graft scandal erupted, which saw the government reassign or dismiss thousands of police officers and hundreds of judges and prosecutors in what was widely seen as retaliation and a bid to impede investigations.

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Details of the corruption allegations have not been made public, but are believed to relate to construction and real estate deals and Turkey’s gold trade with Iran, according to Turkish newspaper reports that cite prosecutors’ documents.

The inquiry into the allegations marks the biggest challenge yet to Erdogan’s 11-year rule ahead of March local elections.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)


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2020 Election

Panicked Republicans ‘working frantically behind the scenes’ — but Trump just keeps attacking GOP Gov Brian Kemp

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Republicans are worried that President Donald Trump will pour gasoline on the intraparty inferno burning in Georgia.

Trump is officially traveling to the Peach State for a rally in support of the two Republican senators in January runoff elections that will decide control of the U.S. Senate.

Republicans worry Trump will continue to attack Republican Gov. Brian Kemp as he has on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1335268230206722048

"Trump is to headline a campaign rally for Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the state Saturday night — his first major political event since before the Nov. 3 election. GOP officials are working frantically behind the scenes to try to keep the president on script at the rally, worried that he will use the forum to attack Kemp and other state GOP officials who have resisted his pressure, according to a person familiar with the discussions," The Washington Post reported Saturday.

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2020 Election

Trump ‘facing a rapid decline’ as he wallows in ‘rage and denial’ over election loss: report

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President Donald Trump's mental health since losing the 2020 presidential election was the focus of a new analysis by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker that was published online Saturday.

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Will we ever know how much money Trump and his family squeezed out of his presidency?

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

Four years ago, a victorious Donald Trump insisted that he had only lost the popular vote due to widespread fraud while raising tens of millions of dollars for his inauguration. Now, as his baseless, often goofy lawsuits get laughed out of courtroom after courtroom, a defeated Trump and his allies are raising tens of millions of dollars from his easily-enraged MAGA base to "stop the steal." And the lion's share of the $207 million Trump has raised since the election hasn't been spent on his legal campaign, but will instead fund his new political slush fund, among other things.

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