Turkey's Erdogan approves voting on powerful presidency

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has approved holding a national referendum on constitutional reforms that would usher in a powerful presidency.

Erdogan approved the bill on Friday, paying the way for the country's electoral board to set a date for the referendum.

Parliament approved the reform package in hotly, and at times violently, debated sessions last month.

The bill envisions granting the office of the presidency — currently a largely ceremonial position — the power to appoint government ministers and senior officials, dissolve parliament, declare states of emergency, issue decrees and appoint half of the members in the country's highest judicial body.

The proposed reforms were backed by a majority of lawmakers in the assembly but failed to clear the threshold needed to come into force without a public vote.