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Heat Over YSK With thousands of people flocking to Population and Citizenship Directorates around the country to have identification requirement turning numbers added to identity cards, a decision by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) requiring the implementation is receiving into large-scale crisis harsh criticism from across the political spectrum and civil society. The YSK recently announced that voters should have identification numbers written on their identity cards to be able to vote in the March 29 local elections. CONTINUED ON PAGE 17Heat over YSK requirement turning into large-scale crisis '^M CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 ?^fl ID cards issued before 2001, however, do not carry the numbers, meaning that up to 3.5 million eligible voters, as announced by Internal Affairs Minister Besir Atalay, will be denied their right to vote in the upcoming elections. Criticism coming from all political affiliations and civil society slightly varies in content but agrees that the board did not adequately inform the public about the requirement. "Identity cards without identification numbers are used in all official dealings. So why can't they be used when voting? The YSK should immediately repeal its decision, or it will cause havoc," stated Mustafa Sentop, an associate professor of constitutional law at Marmara University. The YSK applied to the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) to have all radio and television stations announce the last-minute requirement. The Directorate of Population and Citizenship Affairs will remain open till 11 p.m. each day, including weekends, until election day. However, even if all affected cardholders can immediately be informed about the recent requirement, it is not MERKEZ IL9E felFUS MUDURLUGU Thousands of people flock to Population and Citizenship Directorates across Turkey to have identification numbers added to identity cards to be able to vote on March 29. possible for all of them to change their cards to be able to vote in the elections in the less than two weeks that remain. Each application can take up to two or three hours in registration offices, depending on the frequency and duration of interruptions faced by staff and the large number of applications submitted countrywide. In Ankara alone, more than 2,000 applications were submitted on Sunday. Jurists Union Foundation (HBV) Chairman Sinan Kihckaya said that the decision could cause undemocratic results. "The essence of an election is to turn the voters' decision into democratic representation. How can the YSK bear the responsibility of a voter who claims his right to vote but is turned away?" he added. Members of Parliament are severely criticizing the decision, too. Ahmet Tan from the Democratic Left Party (DSP) said the decision is crippling the election, while Cetin Soysal, Mehmet Sevigen and Bayram Meral from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) said the requirement should not be implemented. "Some are continuously trying to prevent democratic means to be utilized effectively so that 50 people come and administer the whole country themselves," Lokman Ayva from the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) said. Nonetheless, YSK head Muammer Aydin announced yesterday afternoon that they are merely applying the law and that the practice can only be changed if the relevant article is amended before the elections. Istanbul Today's Zaman 18.03.2009 TODAYS ZAMAN

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