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Erdogan’s Government Moves to Further Curb Turkish Army’s Powers

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is preparing to submit a bill to parliament to amend Article 35 of the military charter, which was used by the army as a legal excuse to defend past coups, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said.

Bozdag told reporters in Ankara today that the bill is likely to be approved in October after the legislature’s summer recess. It’s the latest move by Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted government to curtail the military’s decades-old influence over politics.

The army, which pressured four governments out of power since 1960, has argued that Article 35 empowers it to act against any threat. The article, without elaborating, says the duty of the Armed Forces is to defend and protect the Turkish homeland and the Republic of Turkey as defined in the Constitution.

Erdogan’s government has jailed hundreds of retired and serving officers, including dozens of generals, for plotting to overthrow his government in 2003, as well as generals who forced the resignation of the country’s first Islamist prime minister in 1997. He also put two leaders of a 1980 military coup on trial.

Erdogan, who has won three elections with a growing majority, has rejected allegations by secularists that he is seeking revenge on the military. Today’s announcement follows several weeks of anti-government protests in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities, which Erdogan has blamed on the secularist main opposition party, extremist groups and financial speculators.

To contact the reporter on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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