A state of emergency imposed in Turkey after a coup attempt two years ago comes to an end on Thursday, as the government seeks to pass new legislation to keep in place some of the measure’s powers.
The emergency rule was imposed five days after the failed putsch on July 20, 2016 to enable authorities “to take swift and effective action against those responsible” for the coup bid.
The government extended it seven times, facing criticism from the opposition and Turkey’s Western allies.
More than 250 people, excluding the plotters, were killed during the coup attempt, which Ankara blames on the movement of Fethullah Gulen, a religious leader living in self-imposed exile in the United States. Gulen has denied any involvement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made ending the state of emergency a key promise during his campaign ahead of last month’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
After winning the June 24 poll, Erdogan became Turkey’s first executive president with significantly increased powers.
The government recently said it would not seek an extension of the state of emergency, under which tens of thousands of people were either sacked from public institutions or arrested.
Local authorities will be able to prohibit individuals from entering or leaving a defined area for 15 days on security grounds.
And suspect can be held without charge for 48 hours or up to four days in the case of multiple offences.
This period can be extended up to twice if there is difficulty in collecting evidence or if the case is deemed to be particularly voluminous.
The authorities have also shown no hesitation in using the special powers of the emergency — right up to its final days.
Following a decree issued on July 8, 18,632 people were sacked — 8,998 of them police officers — over suspected links to terror organisations and groups that ‘act against national security’.
The move came just two weeks after Erdogan was reelected under a new system that gives him greater powers than any Turkish leader since the aftermath of World War II.
The new executive presidency means government ministries and public institutions are now centralised under the direct control of the presidency.
Erdogan says it is necessary to have a more efficient government but the opposition claims it has placed Turkey squarely under one-man rule.
‘The end of the state of emergency does not mean our fight against terror is going to come to an end,’ said justice minister Abdulhamit Gul.