Leg-biting, chair-throwing Turkish lawmakers told off after parliament punch-up

Leg-biting, chair-throwing Turkish lawmakers told off after parliament punch-up
Turkish lawmakers have been reprimanded by President Erdogan after an "ugly" fight broke out between ruling and opposition MPs during a debate on controversial constitutional reforms.
2 min read
13 January, 2017
A debate on constitutional reform descended into a fist fight [AFP]

Turkish lawmakers who threw punches, chairs and flowerpots in a mass brawl in parliament have been berated by their leader.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is pushing for controversial constitutional reforms bolstering his powers, reprimanded his colleagues on Friday over an "ugly" fist fight which left several injured. 

The squabble broke out on Thursday as lawmakers voted on parts of the 18-article bill to create an executive presidency, with one deputy suffering a broken nose and another claiming his leg was bitten.

"A very ugly situation like breaking the nose of our deputy friend and biting the leg of another is not suitable for any member of parliament," Erdogan said in a televised remarks in Istanbul.

One MP was held in a chokehold while another was left bleeding from the head. The fighting saw chairs and punches thrown while an ornamental flower pot was also seen flying through the air.

The CHP and AKP blamed each other for the fighting.

AKP lawmakers took to Twitter to slam "the scumbag" who left tooth marks on their fellow MP. The biter's identity was not made clear.

There were reports Friday that a heavy and very expensive microphone seized from the chamber's lectern had been broken off and used as a weapon during the rumpus.

But the tensions so far do not appear to have slowed the new constitution's passage which is being debated article by article. Another three were approved overnight on Thursday.

The two readings are expected to take two weeks, with parliament working without a break, before the constitutional package is put to a referendum, expected in the spring.

While critics say the move is part of a power grab by Erdogan for one-man rule, supporters say it will put Turkey in line with France and the US and is needed for efficient government.

Erdogan said Friday after the fighting that if parliament "is incapable of working" then snap elections could be on the agenda.