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Last Updated: Monday, 30 April 2007, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Turkish poll crisis goes to court
Mass pro-secularism demonstration in Istanbul, 29 Apr 07
Istanbul saw a massive show of support for secular institutions
Turkey's disputed election of a new president - pitting secularists against the ruling Islamist-rooted AK party - has gone to the constitutional court.

The court is now examining a petition from the opposition to cancel the election of a new president.

As many as one million people marched through Istanbul on Sunday, opposing presidential candidate Abdullah Gul.

Turkey's currency has tumbled amid fears the army may block the election of Mr Gul, the foreign minister.

Mr Gul says there is no question of him withdrawing from the presidential election.

His wife wears the Islamic headscarf, which remains highly controversial in Turkey.

The first round of the election in parliament ended in disarray on Friday amid a dispute about the number of deputies present for the vote.

The secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), which boycotted Friday's vote, said it would challenge the election in court because a quorum of MPs had not been obtained - a charge the AK (or Justice and Development Party) denies.

Establishment pressure

A second round of voting is due on Wednesday and the court has said it will try to rule on the appeal before the vote.

TURKISH ARMY INTERVENTIONS
Coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980
Forced out first Islamist prime minister in 1997

The powerful military has said it is ready to act to protect Turkey's separation of religion and state.

If the court upholds the CHP position and cancels the presidential election, the ruling would trigger an early general election.

The business elite has called for an early general election to calm the tensions.

The AK, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has an overwhelming majority in parliament.

It has sharply criticised the army threat to intervene in politics, saying the military must remain under civilian control.

Mr Erdogan named Mr Gul as the AK candidate after more than 300,000 secularists rallied in Ankara two weeks ago to prevent Mr Erdogan himself standing.

The prime minister is due to make a televised address to the nation at 2015 (1715 GMT) on Monday.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has said the row is "a clear test case whether the Turkish armed forces respect democratic secularisation and democratic values".

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul says the army statement on Friday night caused a real stir in Turkey.

The army has carried out three coups in the last 50 years - in 1960, 1971 and 1980 - and in 1997 it intervened to force Turkey's first Islamist Prime Minister, Necmettin Erbakan, from power.

The AK is an offshoot of Mr Erbakan's Welfare Party, which was banned in 1998.


VOTE RESULTS
Has the Army made the right decision not to send Harry to Iraq?
Yes
 52.32% 
No
 40.24% 
Not sure
 7.44% 
14821 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

SEE ALSO
Turkish stocks and currency slump
30 Apr 07 |  Business
Army 'concerned' by Turkey vote
28 Apr 07 |  Europe
Defending the secular 'faith'
28 Apr 07 |  Europe
Profile: Abdullah Gul
27 Apr 07 |  Europe

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