Europe

Erdogan to rapidly approve referendum on presidential powers

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Madagascar President Hery Rajaonarimampianina speak to the media during a joint news conference in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017.  Erdogan has arrived in Madagascar on an Africa tour in which he is promoting trade and asking governments to crack down on schools and other institutions linked to Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric accused of organizing the failed military uprising. ( Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service, Pool Photo via AP)

    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Madagascar President Hery Rajaonarimampianina speak to the media during a joint news conference in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. Erdogan has arrived in Madagascar on an Africa tour in which he is promoting trade and asking governments to crack down on schools and other institutions linked to Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric accused of organizing the failed military uprising. ( Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service, Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Madagascar President Hery Rajaonarimampianina chat before a joint news conference in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. Erdogan has arrived in Madagascar on an Africa tour in which he is promoting trade and asking governments to crack down on schools and other institutions linked to Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric accused of organizing the failed military uprising. ( Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service, Pool Photo via AP)

    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Madagascar President Hery Rajaonarimampianina chat before a joint news conference in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. Erdogan has arrived in Madagascar on an Africa tour in which he is promoting trade and asking governments to crack down on schools and other institutions linked to Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric accused of organizing the failed military uprising. ( Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service, Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, second left, Madagascar President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, second right, and their wives Emine Erdogan, left, and Voahangy Rajaonarimampianina talk together during a ceremony in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. Erdogan has arrived in Madagascar on an Africa tour in which he is promoting trade and asking governments to crack down on groups linked to Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric accused of organizing the failed military uprising. (Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service, Pool Photo via AP)

    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, second left, Madagascar President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, second right, and their wives Emine Erdogan, left, and Voahangy Rajaonarimampianina talk together during a ceremony in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. Erdogan has arrived in Madagascar on an Africa tour in which he is promoting trade and asking governments to crack down on groups linked to Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric accused of organizing the failed military uprising. (Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service, Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Turkey's president says he will quickly endorse a parliament-approved reform package that paves the way for a referendum on a presidential system that would give him expanded powers.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Madagascar Wednesday that he would "make (his) assessment without any delay" upon his return to Turkey.

The country's electoral board will set a referendum date as soon as Erdogan has signed off on the reforms. The government says the vote will take place in the first half of April.

The main opposition party, however, has said it would apply to the highest court to seek to cancel the reforms, citing constitutional breaches during the parliamentary vote.

Critics see the reforms as a bid to cement the powers of Erdogan, who is accused of authoritarian behavior.