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New Turkish parliament sworn in

Turkey's new parliament was sworn in a mood of conciliation following last month's landslide victory of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted governing party.
By HT Correspondent | AFP, Ankara
UPDATED ON AUG 04, 2007 11:26 PM IST

Turkey's new parliament was sworn in on Saturday in a mood of conciliation following last month's landslide victory of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted governing party.

But a parliamentary vote later this month to elect the country's next president may yet revive the row that triggered a political crisis in April and forced the early polls on July 22.

The spotlight today was on 21 militant Kurdish politicians who won seats for the first time since the early 1990s when the first parliamentary stint of Kurds campaigning for minority rights ended in disaster.

But the deputies of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) seemed determined not to repeat the storm unleashed at the memorable swearing-in ceremony of 1991 by Leyla Zana, the first Kurdish woman to enter parliament.

The oldest member of the assembly, 83-year-old Sukru Elekdag of the opposition People's Republican Party, presided over the session pending the election of a new speaker.

Calling on the 550 lawmakers to "act with the good sense and sagacity of statesmen, without yielding to emotion, in a spirit of conciliation and dialogue," he invited them to swear, individually and in alphabetical order, fidelity to "the secular and democratic Turkish republic."

The oath-taking session was to continue until around midnight.

DTP leader Ahmet Turk and his colleagues shook the hand of Devlet Bahceli, head of the Nationalist Action Party, which backs a merciless war against the armed Kurdish separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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