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Turkey's highest court meets to decide on oppositon appeal to cancel presidential vote

Turkey's highest court meets to decide on oppositon appeal to cancel presidential vote

Turkey's highest court met on Tuesday to try to decide on an appeal by the main opposition party to cancel the disputed presidential vote amid reports that a legal expert has advised the court to reject it.
The Constitutional Court's decision is crucial for the future of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-rooted government, which is at odds with the country's secular Establishment over fears it might be trying raise the influence of Islam in public life.
Tulay Tugcu, the chief justice of the court, said they will try to issue a verdict on Tuesday.
Earlier, news reports said Hikmet Tulen, an expert assigned by the court to evaluate the appeal, recommended that the court reject it. Court officials would not confirm or deny the report. The court was expected to announce its verdict later Tuesday or early Wednesday.
The Turkish stock market continued its slide Tuesday. The benchmark index, the IMKB-100, was down 2.5 percent at 43,865.44 points. The index had sunk 6.3 percent on Monday as the government came under pressure to declare early general elections.
"Turkey is a poorer country compared to Friday," State Minister Ali Babacan, in charge of economy, told private NTV television. "From now on, the healthy functioning of our democracy will be the main decisive factor of economic developments."
The opposition Republican People's Party, which boycotted parliament's first round of voting for president on Friday, wants the first-round of voting canceled, arguing that there were not enough lawmakers present to establish a quorum.
If the appeal is rejected, parliament will proceed and hold a second round of voting as scheduled.
The sole candidate to become Turkey's 11th president, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, is a senior member of the country's political Islamic movement whose wife covers her head with a head scarf.
If the court accepts the argument of the main opposition party that the participation of two-thirds of the lawmakers was necessary to hold a vote in Friday's first round then the election could be canceled and early general elections could be declared within three months.
Erdogan's government faced a stern warning from the powerful military, which accused the government of tolerating or encouraging radical Islam.
At least 700,000 protesters marched in Istanbul on Sunday to demand the resignation of the government. The country's influential association of Turkish industrialists and businessmen, TUSIAD, urged the government to declare immediate early general elections.
Erdogan on Monday appealed for stability and drew attention to his strong economic record in a national address. A lawmaker from his party resigned on Tuesday, leaving the ruling party with only 352 seats in the parliament. The reason for the resignation was not immediately clear.