(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
ANKARA - Turkey's prime minister called on the public on Saturday to back constitutional change that would greatly strengthen President Tayyip Erdogan's powers, portraying the reform as a vote for stability at the start of campaigning ahead of an April referendum.
Thousands of ruling AK Party members waved Turkish flags and rallying songs resounded round a sports arena in the capital as Prime Minister Binali Yildirim handed out red carnations after briefly addressing thousands gathered outside.
"There is a rising voice from the town squares: for a strong Turkey, for lasting stability our decision is..." Yildirim called out, eliciting the repeated shouted response "Yes" from the multitude unable to enter the packed arena.
Some 6,500 police provided security inside and around the arena on Saturday, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.
The bid to replace the EU candidate country's parliamentary democracy with a powerful executive presidency is seen by Erdogan supporters as a guarantee of stability, preventing a return to the fragile coalitions of previous decades.