Europe

Turkish committee clears draft expanding Erdogan's powers

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during an award ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. Turkey on Thursday rejected Washington's denials that it has provided weapons to a Syrian Kurdish militia force which Ankara considers to be a terrorist group and again complained about a lack of support from the U.S.-led coalition to its offensive against the Islamic State group in northern Syria. (Yasin Bulbul, Presidential Press Service, Pool photo via AP)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during an award ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. Turkey on Thursday rejected Washington's denials that it has provided weapons to a Syrian Kurdish militia force which Ankara considers to be a terrorist group and again complained about a lack of support from the U.S.-led coalition to its offensive against the Islamic State group in northern Syria. (Yasin Bulbul, Presidential Press Service, Pool photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

A Turkish parliamentary commission has cleared a set of draft constitutional amendments that would greatly expand the powers of the president.

The constitutional commission approved the reforms that would turn the largely ceremonial presidency into one where the president enjoys full executive powers early on Friday. A vote in the general assembly is expected to take place next month, with a possible referendum in the spring.

Critics fear the proposed reforms would allow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who already has outsized influence over his party and the levers of government, to rule unchecked. If approved, the amendments would also extend Erdogan's mandate.

The reforms were approved at the end of 10 days of tense debate between the committee's ruling party and main opposition party members.