ANKARA, Turkey – A Turkish legislator handcuffed herself to parliament's rostrum on Thursday to protest a reform package that would give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office executive powers. The move sparked fighting between women legislators, who were seen slapping each other.
Independent legislator Aylin Nazliaka attached herself to the microphone, forcing parliament's deputy speaker to twice call a recess and halt debate on the draft constitutional amendments for more than an hour.
During the recess, a group of women legislators from Erdogan's ruling party tried to convince Nazliaka to end her protest, while counterparts from the opposition pro-Kurdish party surrounded the rostrum to support her.
The lawmakers soon came to blows, shoving and slapping each other, television footage showed. Media reports said the microphone came apart during the scuffles and Nazliaka was removed from the assembly hall.
It was the third time that deliberations on the proposed amendments gave way to brawls.
Last week, ruling party and opposition lawmakers scuffled with each, and one ruling party legislator claimed he was bitten on the leg.
The ruling Justice and Development Party, founded by Erdogan, says a strong presidency is needed to strengthen Turkey as it faces an array of terror threats.
Critics say the changes would give too many powers to Erdogan, who is accused of displaying authoritarian tendencies.
A final vote on the proposals is expected Friday or Saturday. If approved by parliament, the reforms would be put to a national referendum.