ANKARA (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party and its nationalist ally plan to introduce security regulations to ensure the “fight against terrorism” will continue after a two-year-old state of emergency ends this month, two sources told Reuters.
The regulations, which will grant broader authority to local governors, will likely be brought to parliament and go into effect by the end of this month, one of the sources, a senior AK Party official, said.
Turkey has been under a state of emergency since a 2016 failed coup, allowing the government to limit freedoms and rule by decree, bypassing parliament. Erdogan, who was this week sworn in an under a new, executive presidential system and now holds sweeping powers, had promised not to renew the state of emergency when it expires on July 18.
Critics have said Erdogan’s new powers - which allow him to issue decrees on executive matters and appoint and remove senior civil servants, including some judges and prosecutors - may largely supersede the state of emergency.
“The main aim of the regulation is that the fight against terrorism will not be interrupted after the state of emergency is lifted,” the official said. “The authority of governors will be broadened.”
Unlike mayors, who are elected, governors in Turkey are appointed by Ankara.
“Turkey is well on its way to an increasingly authoritarian-style of government, built around President Erdogan,” U.S. intelligence consultancy Soufan Group said. “The end of the state of emergency is a needed and positive step, but one that is undercut by the breadth of the new powers of the presidency that Erdogan now wields.”
Some 160,000 people have been detained under emergency rule and nearly the same number of state employees have been dismissed, the U.N. human rights office said in March.
Of those detained, about 77,000 have been formally charged and kept in jail during their trials, the interior minister said in April.
Critics of Erdogan accuse him of using the failed putsch as a pretext to quash dissent. Turkey says the measures are necessary to combat threats to national security.
“They made the state of emergency into a tool to intervene in every aspect of life,” said Teoman Sancar, a lawmaker from the secularist opposition CHP lawmaker, referring to Erdogan’s ruling AKP. “Now they want to make the state of emergency permanent with a legal cover.”
Some security regulations are expected to end when emergency rule is lifted - such as right of security forces to search people without a warrant, the requirement that people carry an ID at all times and the government’s ability to ban protests and cultural activities.
The maximum time someone can be held in detention without an indictment, up to 14 days now, will again be up to 4 days.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which is in an alliance with Erdogan’s ruling AKP, had previously said that the state of emergency should be extended further. The party is known for its hardline nationalism and deep antipathy to leftists and the Kurdish political movement.
Additional reporting by Dominic Evans and Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by David Dolan and Andrew Heavens