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Turkey's Parliament to Give Erdogan Sweeping New Powers as Crackdown Widens

by The Associated Press /  / Updated 
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke on July 20.ADEM ALTAN / AFP - Getty Images

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish lawmakers convened Thursday to endorse sweeping new powers for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that would allow him to expand a crackdown in the wake of last week's failed coup.

Nearly 10,000 people have been arrested while hundreds of schools have been closed in the crackdown. In addition, 58,881 civil service employees have been dismissed, forced to resign or had their licenses revoked as of Thursday.

 Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke on July 20. ADEM ALTAN / AFP - Getty Images

Turkey's 550-member parliament is set to approve Erdogan's request for a three-month state of emergency. Erdogan's Justice and Development Party account for 317 members in the chamber.

In an address to the nation late Wednesday, Erdogan announced a Cabinet decision to seek the additional powers, saying the state of emergency would give the government the tools to rid the military of the "virus" of subversion. He didn't specify exactly what the state of emergency would entail.

Related: Will Failed Coup Make Turkey's Strongman Even Stronger?

Under the Turkish Constitution, the emergency measures allow the government to "partially or entirely" suspend "the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms," so long as it doesn't violate international law. Lawmakers can sanction a state of emergency for a period of up to six months.

Before the vote, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said that once emergency measures are invoked, the country would suspend its participation in the European Convention of Human Rights. He said the move was justified under a convention article allowing for such a suspension in times of emergency.

A state of emergency has never been nationwide — though it was declared in the restive southeast of the country between 1987 and 2002. Martial law was imposed across the country for three years following a successful military coup in 1980.

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The measure would give Erdogan the authority to extend detention times for suspects and issue decrees that have the force of law without parliamentary approval, among other powers.

Meanwhile, Turkish state media said a further 32 judges and two military officers have been detained by authorities during the crackdown since last week's coup.

A soldier allegedly linked to the attack on a hotel where Erdogan had been vacationing during the foiled coup was arrested in southwestern Turkey, the state agency Anadolu reported Thursday.

Related: U.S. Denies Role in Turkey Coup Attempt

In Greece, a court sentenced eight Turkish military personnel who fled there aboard a helicopter during the coup attempt to two months in prison for illegal entry into the country.

Turkey has demanded their return to stand trial for alleged participation in the coup attempt. The eight, who deny involvement, have applied for asylum saying they fear for their safety if they are returned.

Countries around the world are keeping a close watch on developments in Turkey, which straddles Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Thursday the state of emergency should only last as long as it's "absolutely necessary."

 Police with an arrested Turkish soldier at police headquarters in Mersin on Wednesday. EPA

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