[JURIST] Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [IHT backgrounder] told the country's parliament Friday that his government will draft a new constitution that would more effectively protect individual rights in accordance with international standards. Erdogan was laying out his program for the next five years in the aftermath of the sweeping victory won by his Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish] in national elections [MSNBC report] in July. The party has already started work on a reformist charter that would overhaul the current constitution [text], approved in 1982. Anticipated amendments include a guarantee against torture and protection of the rights of soldiers dismissed from the army for Islamist affiliations to appeal against their expulsions. The AKP is a secular offshoot of a now-banned Islamist party.
Turkey has been under increasing pressure to reform its laws and state structure as part of accession negotiations with the European Union [JURIST report], which stalled last year after EU officials complained of inadequate progress on a range of rights-related issues [JURIST report]. The AKP's reform efforts are, however, being met by distrust from the country's powerful and highly secularist military; earlier this week, as lawmakers elected former Islamist and Erdogan protege Abdullah Gul to the country's presidency, the army warned that "centers of evil" were in fact trying to undermine the constitution [JURIST report]. AFP has more.