The Week Ahead: Demirel on course for presidency

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The Independent Online
THE NEXT president of Turkey will be elected this week to succeed Turgut Ozal who died last month. It will probably be the veteran conservative Suleyman Demirel who has just concluded his seventh term as prime minister. Mr Demirel is not expected to achieve a two- thirds majority in the parliamentary vote on Wednesday, but is thought certain to sweep the simple parliamentary majority on Sunday.

Mr Demirel, 68, who is regarded as a conciliator, is expected to continue the hesitant unofficial peace process with the Kurds but otherwise to concentrate on domestic policy. One of his election promises was to ensure that police stations had 'walls of glass', but he has been criticised for falling down on promises he made to reform the penal code.

Opposition politicians have accused Mr Demirel of using the government's parliamentary majority - made up of his True Path Party and its junior coalition partner, the Socialist Democratic Populist Party - to bulldoze his way to the presidency. They would have preferred a neutral candidate.

Boris Yeltsin has decided the time has come to try to resolve the festering dispute with Georgia over the continued presence of Russian troops on Georgian soil. He has invited Georgia's President, Eduard Shevardnadze, for talks in Moscow on Friday about how they might sort things out.

Mr Shevardnadze is unlikely to be impressed by Russia's proposal to withdraw its troops by the end of 1995. Tbilisi complains that Russian troops in the west Georgian autonomous republic of Abkhazia are meddling in a conflict between separatists and Georgian forces. But Mr Yeltsin insists his troops will not leave Abkhazia until Georgia first pulls out its own troops.

Repeated declarations from Moscow of the need to protect Russia's 'strategic interests' on the Black Sea coast have hardly helped: they have simply inflamed Georgian nationalists who want the troops out now.

Metal and engineering workers in more eastern German states hold a strike ballot today on whether to join the strike action launched by the IG-Metall union in support of a 26 per cent pay rise, which employers claim they cannot pay. The labour unrest can be expected to spread on Wednesday, if agreement is not reached, when industrial workers in the west of the country undertake protest actions in solidarity with their eastern comrades.

The Italian senate votes on Thursday on whether to lift the immunity on the former prime minister Giulio Andreotti, who is accused of having dealings with Mafia bosses. Mr Andreotti insists he is innocent and says he is quite happy to have his parliamentary immunity lifted, as requested by judicial authorities in Palermo.

In another country grappling with corruption in high places, the parliament in India votes for the first time today on whether to impeach a Supreme Court judge accused of corruption. Judge V Ramaswami has been found guilty of misusing public funds and maladministration by a committee of three fellow Supreme Court judges, but he still refuses to quit.

The judges concluded that Judge Ramaswami had indulged in 'intentional and habitual extravagance at the cost of the public exchequer' in buying carpets and furnishings worth pounds 106,000 from hand-picked dealers to adorn his home and his courtroom, of making pounds 19,000 of private calls on his official telephone and of buying 25 silver maces for his court which, his colleagues protested, were not only bought at inflated prices but were an offensive relic of India's colonial past.

Under the constitution, a Supreme Court judge can be removed only if both houses of parliament vote in favour. To make such an unprecedented move even harder, at least half the MPs must be present, two- thirds must vote and those in favour must outnumber half the total number of MPs. Many Congress party MPs from Judge Ramaswami's home state of Tamil Nadu, in the south, say the charges are exaggerated.

At the Eurovision Song Contest in Ireland on Saturday, watch out for the Bosnian group, Fazia. They qualified by slipping through Serbian lines to reach the Eastern European semi-finals in Ljubljana.

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