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Referendum proposed on Gezi Park development

13 June 2013

Prime Minister Erdogan met an eleven  strong delegation representing protestors yesterday.

The meeting lasted many hours and covered a range of topics, including the demands of the protestors. These include a ban on the use of tear gas and the dismissal of officials that ordered the violent police crackdowns.

At the end of the meeting, the government spokesman, Huseyin Celik, gave a press statement.

During his statement Mr Celik said that the prime minister had proposed that there was a referendum for the people of Istanbul so that it could clearly be seen what their thoughts were on the proposed Gezi Park development. The ruling AKP Central executive Committee will be asked to decide on the holding of a referendum he said.

He added that the referendum would only be on the reconversion of the iconic park to the replica of the historic Artillery Barracks, (see plan shown above), a flagship venue that was announced by the prime minister among its “crazy projects” for Istanbul. It was initially said that the building would comprise a shopping centre, which sparked an outcry among citizens who opposed the demolition of Istanbul’s green lung at the heart of its entertainment area.

However earlier today there was a surprising turn to this developing story.

This came from an intervention by the Chief Justice Huseyin Karakullukcu. He says that the prime minister can hold a referendum if he wants. However this does not overcome judicial decisions and the rule of law.

There is currently a judgement in place to suspend all development activity in Gezi Park.

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