Turkish party promises presidential vote

July 27, 2007 at 11:27 PM
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ANKARA, Turkey, July 27 (UPI) -- An opposition party has used a parliamentary maneuver to revive Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul's hope of becoming president.

The Nationalist Movement Party, known by its initials MHP, said this week that its 70 members of Parliament will be present for the vote, Today's Zaman reported. That would ensure a quorum.

The ruling Justice and Development or AK Party, a moderate Islamist group, won at least 340 seats in last Sunday's election, giving it a majority but not enough sets -- 367 -- required for a quorum.

"The decision belongs to the AK Party entirely. They can elect whomever they want," MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said. "We may not back their candidate. And they don't need this either."

Gul won a previous parliamentary vote, but his election was thrown out by the courts because there was no quorum. Some Turks opposed him because he is a devout Muslim whose wife wears a head scarf.

The stalemate precipitated the election.

Turkey is overwhelmingly Muslim but has a tradition of separating mosque and state that dates back to Kemal Ataturk, who created the modern state from the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire.

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