ANKARA

The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party on Tuesday objected to the possible splitting of bar associations in the country if changes to the law governing public professional groups pass.

Speaking to lawmakers of his Republican People’s Party (CHP) in parliament, Kemal Kilicdaroglu underlined that bar associations were legally considered public entities according to the country’s constitution.

“A country does not have two central banks. There would not be two governors in a single province. There would not be two [district] governors in a single township. There would not be two finance ministers,” said Kilicdaroglu, adding: “There would only be one bar association in a single province.”

He accused the government of trying to usurp the right to legal defense by changing the legal code governing bar associations.

Voicing support for bar members who were blocked by police on Monday during a protest march against the changes to the law, Kilicdaroglu said: “Those who did not want the lawyers to not enter [Ankara] […] should not forget that, one day, you will also need lawyers.”

The police said the marchers did not have a permit and were violating social distancing rules.

Later, the march was allowed to visit Anitkabir, the mausoleum of the country’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

On Saturday, bar group heads started an “advocacy walk” towards Ankara to protest the proposed legal changes.

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