Turkey's prime minister called on the public on Saturday (February 25) to back constitutional change that would greatly strengthen President Tayyip Erdogan's powers, portraying the reform as a vote for stability at the start of campaigning ahead of an April referendum. Saskia O'Donoghue reports.
Calling on the Turkish people to back changes to their constitution. A move which would greatly strengthen the powers of the country's President. The Prime Minister launching a campaign ahead of a referendum due in April. Selling the reform hard as a vote for stability. Thousands of ruling AK Party members singing rallying songs. As red carnations were handed out to the crowds. Security tight in the arena on Saturday. Some 6,500 police inside and out, according to state-run Anadolu news agency. The aim of the reform is to replace the parliamentary democracy with a powerful executive presidency, and could keep Erdogan in office until 2029. Seen by supporters as a way of preventing a return to the fragile coalitions of previous decades. But opponents fear a surge in authoritarianism. Tens of thousands of people have been detained and more than 100,000 public sector workers suspended or dismissed since a failed coup last July. The NATO-member country will vote in a plebiscite on April 16. A simple majority is needed to approve the legislation.