Turkish lawmakers approved the bill on 18-article constitutional changes in a final vote early Saturday, Anadolu Agency reported.

A total of 339 legislators voted for and 142 against the changes that will now head to a referendum likely to be held in early April.

The constitutional changes are expected to lead to dramatically expanded powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They include Turkey’s shifting to a presidential system that requires a simple majority, or 51 percent, in a referendum.

The parliament vote came after almost three weeks of debates, which even caused lawmakers to fight each other.

Each article was put to a vote in the 550-seat Turkish parliament. At least 330 votes, or a three-fifths majority, are needed to adopt the constitutional change.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), congratulated lawmakers for passing the constitutional changes.

“People will have the final say,” he told them. “We have done our job. Now we convey the issue to its real owner, our people.”

“People’s vote will be the most accurate one,” said Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli. “The Turkish nation will do its own evaluation and hopefully it will add to what has been achieved so far.”

Main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), urged Turks to “spoil the game that was played in the parliament.”

“The mistake that has been done in the parliament can be revoked by the people,” Kilicdaroglu said. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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