Turkey's ruling AK Party will not seek more time to prepare its defence in a case brought by a prosecutor seeking its closure for allegedly Islamist activities, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was reported as saying on Wednesday.
The court case has fuelled political tension and unsettled financial markets in Turkey and there had been speculation that the party would seek such an extension to the May 2 deadline to present its defence.
"We will not seek an additional period (to prepare our defence). Our work is completed. I think we can most probably give our initial response today," state-run Anatolian news agency reported Erdogan as saying at a news conference.
It could have sought an extension of up to three months and the decision was an apparent move to minimise the period of political uncertainty triggered by the prosecutor's call last month for the Constitutional Court to close the party.
The AK Party, which rejects the charges, has said the closure case is politically motivated and an attack on democracy. Erdogan said earlier this month he would not rule out changing the constitution to avoid the party's closure.
The indictment was sent to the AK Party on April 2 with an initial one-month deadline to prepare its defence.
The Court of Appeals prosecutor said on March 14 he had asked the Constitutional Court to shut down the party for allegedly anti-secular activities and to ban 71 party officials, including Erdogan, from politics for five years.
The Constitutional Court agreed at the start of this month to hear the case, which is expected to drag on for many months.
The European Union, which has been pushing for more democratic reforms in Turkey, has criticised the lawsuit.
Last Mod: 30 Nisan 2008, 18:33