A Turkish politician has handcuffed herself to the rostrum in the parliament building in Ankara in protest against proposed legislative reforms that would give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unprecedented executive powers.
Aylin Nazliaka, an independent MP, took to the speaker’s podium during a debate on articles in the lengthy proposed bill and attached herself to the microphone on Thursday.
The proposed reforms – which proponents in Mr Erdogan’s ruling AK party say are necessary to deal with Turkey’s fragile economic and security situations – would abolish the position of the prime minister, giving the sitting president the power to appoint and dismiss ministers, to once again become head of a political party, and possibly govern until 2029.
Opposition politicians and democracy activists have said the bill is dangerously close to a form of authoritarianism.
Ms Nazliaka’s protest on Thursday forced parliament’s deputy speaker to suspend the discussion on the proposed constitutional reforms for several hours, and eventually led to a fistfight between several female members of parliament which Turkish media said resulted in two representatives being taken to hospital for their injuries.
During a recess called after Ms Nazliaka handcuffed herself, one MP unscrewed the microphone from the podium, leading to the physical confrontation between members of Mr Erdogan’s ruling AK party and the opposition.
Safak Pavey, a disabled MP from the main opposition party, told Hurriyet newspaper she was pushed to the ground by a ruling party member while a colleague was “dragged by her hair.”
Thursday’s events marked the third time debate on the proposed amendments to Turkey’s constitution have ended in a brawl.
A final vote on the proposals is expected Friday or Saturday. If approved by parliament, the reforms would be put to a national referendum.
Mr Erdogan has steadily consolidated his grip on power since his election to the largely ceremonial post of president in 2014.
There has been a particular crackdown on members of the opposition, academics, journalists and rights activists since a failed military coup in July last year, after which the government declared a state of emergency.