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 By the Gazette Editorial Board

The recent decree issued by Turkish President Erdogan for the dismissal of more than 18,500 civil servants, police officers, soldiers and academics, can only be seen as a continuation of his attempt to clear state institutions of all voices of opposition to his authoritarian rule of the country.

 

On the pretext of the failed coup against his rule in July 2016, Erdogan forced a state of emergency on the country to help him get rid of the greatest number of his opponents.

 

The emergency has been renewed seven times. The latest period is officially due to end on July 19.

Over 110,000 civil servants had already been removed from their jobs under emergency decrees since July 2016. Tens of thousands more have been suspended on charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation.

 

Erdogan accuses US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen of having orchestrated the attempted coup. The majority of those fired under the emergency decrees were accused of links to Gulen's movement. Gulen strongly denied any coup links and insisted his movement was peaceful.

 

Erdogan's recent decree was issued shortly after he won the presidential election and a day before he was due to take the oath of office, inaugurating a powerful executive presidency.

 

Although he won the election by no more than 52.5 per cent of the vote, Erdogan behaves as if he had come to office with overwhelming public support.

 

Instead of adopting policies to help him regain his lost popularity, the arrogant leader decided to crack down yet again on his opponents and escalate public anger against his regime. He seems more determined than ever today to force his fundamentalist ideology on Turkish society.

 

For long the Islamist leader claimed to respect the secular traditions and principles on which the state of Turkey was created in the first half of the 20th century. When he and his party in parliament came to power, however, Erdogan accelerated the removal of all his opponents in one move and before the end of the state of emergency on July 19.

 

The proof is that the list that comprised more than 18,000 people gathered elements from various categories of society that couldn't come together in one movement, such as that of Gulen, or be part of the failed military coup carried out by some members of the military institution in July 2016.

 

It is, in fact, difficult to find a connection between all those rivals other than their strong opposition to Erdogan’s new authoritarian rule and his obsession with reviving the Ottoman Empire.

 

It is hard to imagine a link between the military personnel who used to guard the secular nature of modern Turkey and the Islamist preacher Fethullah Gulen who shares Erdogan's AK Party ideology of reviving the Islamic background of Turkey but differs on the means for its enforcement.

 

In other words, the decree, the Turkish media labelled as the last was a must. It was meant to remove all Erdogan's opponents from state bodies to ensure the full domination of the AKP over all state institutions.

 

The question is can Erdogan or any other ruler govern a society in which around 50 per cent of its members hold the ruler in contempt?

ANKARA, Turkey, June 25, 2018 (News Wires) — The head of Turkey's electoral board says 99.91 per cent of the ballots cast in Sunday's dual presidential and parliamentary elections have been "processed" so far.

Sadi Guven on Monday described the elections, in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a new five-year term with vastly increased powers, as "healthy" and said the results would be opened for public scrutiny in 10 days.

According to unofficial results, Erdogan won 52.6 percent of the votes in the presidential race, avoiding a second-round runoff vote. His ruling Justice and Development Party garnered 42.5 per cent of the parliamentary vote.

The board is scheduled to confirm the results on June 29 after reviewing complaints.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has become one of the first world leaders to congratulate Recep Tayyip Erdogan on being re-elected as Turkey's president.

Turkey's national electoral board has declared Erdogan the winner of the country's presidential election with an absolute majority of valid votes.

Putin sent Erdogan a telegram to congratulate him on the victory, the Kremlin said in a statement on Monday.

Putin told Erdogan that the results of the election were a testament to his political authority and the broad support for his leadership.

Turkey and Russia have put aside their traditional rivalries and differences on regional issues to forge closer ties. Putin and Erdogan have met several times in the past year and regularly speak on the phone.

Also Monday, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci congratulated Erdogan in a tweet, adding: "Looking forward to our continued good co-operation."

Turkey has been a main supporter of Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

HARARE, June 5, 2018 (News Wires) — Thousands of opposition supporters marched in Zimbabwe’s capital on Tuesday to demand electoral reforms ahead of the July 30 vote, the first since Robert Mugabe stepped down last year.

The street demonstration was Harare’s largest since the massive one in November leading to Mugabe’s departure. Speakers warned they would march again if President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power with the military’s help, “steals” the election.

Mnangagwa has promised a “free, fair and credible” vote and invited Western observers for the first time in nearly two decades, mindful that the West has indicated a fair vote must take place before international sanctions can be lifted. Previous elections have been marked by allegations of fraud and violence.

Nelson Chamisa, the 40-year-old MDC-T party leader who has energized the opposition since the death of longtime opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in February, said they will not allow elections to go ahead if the vote is not free and fair.

“We will stop all processes until they accept our demands. ... We are prepared to do whatever is necessary,” Chamisa told cheering supporters.

Chanting slogans, the marchers passed through Mnangagwa’s office, where a Cabinet meeting was under way, and presented a petition. They did the same at the electoral commission.

MADRID, May 28, 2018 (News Wires) - Spain's parliament has fixed the date for a debate and vote of confidence in Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for May 31 and June 1, Spain's leading newspaper El Pais reported on Monday.

A parliamentary spokeswoman could not confirm the date.

On Friday, Rajoy was threatened with no-confidence motions and demands for a snap election over a graft trial involving members of his party in which a judge cast doubt on his testimony.

YEREVAN, May 8, 2018 (Reuters) - Thousands of supporters of Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan gathered in the capital on Tuesday in anticipation of a vote in parliament set to install him as prime minister.

The vote follows days of mass protests by Pashinyan's supporters that forced Armenia's veteran leader, Serzh Sarksyan, to step down as prime minister and set the scene for a dramatic change in power in the former Soviet state.

"We made a revolution in our country," said Karine Balayan, a 19-year-old who was wearing a T-shirt bearing Pashinyan's portrait. "The whole world will respect us."

The tumultuous events have been watched warily in Moscow, which sees Armenia as a strategic ally and does not want a change of rulers that pulls it out of its orbit. Moscow has a military base in Armenia. Pashinyan has said he will keep close ties with the Kremlin.

Armenia's ruling Republican Party, closely allied to the ousted Sarksyan, holds the majority in parliament.

In a concession to the strength of the protests, which for a day last week brought the country to a virtual standstill, the party has signaled that it will put its votes behind Pashinyan's candidacy when parliament votes later on Tuesday.

"By the end of the parliamentary session, Armenia will have a prime minister. The Republican Party's votes will go toward making up for any votes missing from the 53 needed for the election of a prime minister," Republican Party lawmaker Samvel Farmanyan said.

Pashinyan, a former journalist who spent time in jail on charges of fomenting unrest, is the only candidate.

His election as prime minister would mark a rupture with the cadre of leaders who since the late 1990s have controlled Armenia, a country of about three million people nestling in mountains between Turkey and Iran.

Crowds of Pashinyan supporters were gathering on Republic Square, in the capital Yerevan, in anticipation of their leader becoming prime minister.

"It's a great day in the history of Armenia...We will live in a free and democratic country," said one of them, Mger Abramyan, a 69-year-old pensioner.

PHNOM PENH, April 30, 2018 (Reuters) - Cambodia began registering political parties on Monday for a July general election which long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen is poised to win after the Supreme Court dissolved the main opposition party.

The National Election Committee (NEC) said Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) was the first to register along with the little known, pro-government Cambodian Youth Party (CYP).

Registration will end on May 14.

"Many political parties will register, 16 parties have collected forms to fill in," Dim Sovannarom, a spokesman for the NEC, told Reuters.

The registration comes amid a campaign by Hun Sen against his critics, including members of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), in what opponents say is a bid to prolong his leadership after 33 years in office.

The CNRP was dissolved and its lawmakers banned from politics in November after the Supreme Court ruled that it had tried to overthrow the government with the help from the United States. Both the CNRP and the United States deny the accusation.

The CNRP dissolution was followed by the arrest of its leader, Kem Sokha.

Hun Sen defended the July election and said it would involve multiple political parties with different political viewpoints, adding that the vote would take place as planned on July 29.

"The process of multi-party democracy still continues," Hun Sen said.

Mu Sochua, a deputy leader of the CNRP, said the general election would not be fair.

"No CNRP, no free and fair election, means that the next government will be illegitimate," Mu Sochua told Reuters.

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