Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been sworn in for a new term that would see him enjoy sweeping powers, which his opponents say will be used to consolidate his control over the country.
Erdogan took the oath of office on Monday in the Turkish parliament, where he vowed that he would make the right use of the sweeping powers he won in a referendum last year and sealed in a hard-fought re-election victory two weeks ago.
“As president, I swear upon my honor and integrity, before the great Turkish nation and history, to work with all my power to protect and exalt the glory and honor of the Republic of Turkey,” Erdogan told the lawmakers.
His remarks were met with a minute-long standing ovation from his supporters in parliament. The opposition lawmakers, however, stuck to their seats in a clear sign of disagreement with the Turkish president.
Erdogan called general and presidential elections more than a year earlier than planned, arguing that using the extended presidential powers was necessary to boost economy, ensure security and prevent a spillover of conflicts from neighboring Iraq and Syria.
He has watched over two years of a large-scale crackdown that has seen some 50,000 people arrested and more than 110,000 others dismissed from state jobs since a coup attempt in July 2016.
Critics say he would use the vast powers in his new term to further clamp down on dissent and consolidate the grip of his ruling Justice and Development Party on power.
His supporters, however, insist Erdogan deserves to be empowered as president, saying he has steered Turkey through its years of economic progress while rewarding working classes in the country.
Under the new system, which marks Turkey’s biggest overhaul of governance since the republic was established nearly a century ago, there will be no prime minister in the government and Erdogan will have the ultimate say on many state issues.
Erdogan is expected to announce his cabinet of 16 ministers later on Monday. Many Western leaders have avoided attending his inauguration ceremony.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir were among the most notable of around 7,000 guests invited.