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Turkish PM assails prosecutor bid to ban ruling party for 'anti-secular' activities

[JURIST] Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] said Saturday that a bid by the country's top prosecutor to disband his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish] and to bar him and President Abdullah Gul [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from political office was a "step against the national will." Chief prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya [official profile, in Turkish] petitioned the Constitutional Court of Turkey [official website, English version] on Friday for the banishment of the party, which controls the offices of the prime minister and president and dominates the 550-seat Parliament with 340 lawmakers. Yalcinkaya accused the AKP of being "the focal point of anti-secular activities," writing in his indictment that the party "has tried to chip away at the principles of secularism." The Islamist-leaning AKP has long been at odds with Turkey's secular establishment, prompted backlash from the Republican People's Party [official website] most recently for the passage of a constitutional amendment easing a ban on Islamic headscarves [JURIST report] in universities.

The AKP, which emerged in 2001 from a banned Islamist party, took 47 percent of the vote in the national parliamentary elections last July. The Constitutional Court has banned several Islamist parties in the past, including the Welfare Party, which lead Turkey's first pro-Islamist government for nearly a year, for violating constitutional obligations to respect Turkey's strict secular principles. The court will meet Monday to decide whether to accept the prosecutor's complaint. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage.

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