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Turkish Court Annuls Presidential Vote Amid National Tension

BY Admin  May 1, 2007 at 4:45 PM EDT

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul

Turkey’s government announced a new parliamentary vote will be held Wednesday for the only candidate, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul of the moderate-Islamist Justice and Development Party, after the court ruled not enough parliamentary members were present for last week’s vote.

The secular opposition parties had boycotted the vote.

On Sunday, an estimated 1 million people participated in a peaceful march to protest the nomination of Gul, who is viewed by many of Turkey’s secular supporters as potentially threatening to the separation of state and religion. Gul was a minister in an Islamist government in the country that was ousted 10 years ago.

Government spokesman Cemil Cicek said the cabinet would seek the required attendance of 367 parliamentarians, out of 550, for the new vote. Parliament elects the president for a seven-year term.

The government has been considering early parliamentary elections to try to ease tensions between ruling party supporters and pro-secular citizens, which have the backing of the Turkish military. The military has stated it will not support the election of Gul to the presidency.

The ruling party, led by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan currently commands a large majority in the parliament.

“It will be best for parliamentary elections to be held as soon as possible because it’s not right to keep Turkey in such a state of uncertainty for long,” Cicek said, according to Bloomberg news.

The government will not agree to early elections until a constitutional amendment passes to lower the minimum age for candidacy to 25, from 30.

Turkish financial markets have dropped as a result of the unrest. Erdogan asked for calm in order to help secure the country’s financial stability.