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Erdogan insists Turkey reforms don’t make him a dictator

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted that his plans toáassume sweeping new powersádo not make him a dictator.
In an exclusive interview with American TV, Erdogan said that a constitutional reform package — backed by a narrow majority of Turkey’s voters in a referendum on Sunday — was not about him.
“I am a mortal really, I could die at any time,” he told Becky Anderson inside Ankara’s presidential palace Tuesday, in his first interview since the vote.
Turkish voters on Sunday passed an 18-article constitutional reform package that will transform the country’s parliamentary system into a powerful executive presidency. The plan, put forward by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), gives Erdogan sweeping and largely unchecked powers.
Erdogan rejected accusations that he supported the new powers out of a desire to empower himself rather than improve Turkey’s political system. “The system represents a change, a transformation in the democratic history of Turkey,” he said.
Under the revised constitution, Erdogan will be able to abolish the post of Prime Minister and assume broad new powers to rule by decree. The new arrangements give him the power to appoint a cabinet and some senior judges. The power of Parliament to scrutinize legislation is curbed.
Erdogan has already transformed a largely ceremonial office into a strong powerbase, instituting a widespread crackdown on dissent that intensified after a failed coup last year. More than 47,000 people have been arrested since the foiled coup, and nearly 200 journalists are behind bars.

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