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Turkish constitutional court to hear bid to ban ruling party

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Turkey [official website, in Turkish] voted 11-0 Monday to hear a bid to disband the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish], days after a warning [JURIST report] by the EU Enlargement Commissioner that an AKP ban could have serious ramifications for Turkey's bid to join the European Union [JURIST news archive]. Earlier this month, Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya petitioned the court to disband the AKP [JURIST report] and bar 71 politicians, including Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul [BBC profiles], from holding political office for five years, citing allegations that the AKP is the "focal point of anti-secular activities." The government now has one month to prepare a defense or seek an extension before oral arguments begin.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn [official website] said Saturday that in a typical European democracy the political issue raised by the case would normally be debated in parliament and decided by a ballot, and that a decision to ban the Islamic-oriented party could create an obstacle in Turkey's bid to become a member of the EU. The Constitutional Court has banned several Islamist parties in the past for violating constitutional obligations to respect Turkey's strict secular principles. AP has more. Hurriyet has local coverage.

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