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Turkish Ruling Party Preparing to Replace PM Davutoglu Over Differences with President Erdogan

May 5, 2016  

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets with Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, May 4, 2016 reut  


Turkish PM announces stepping aside

Source: Xinhua   2016-05-05 21:09:48

ANKARA, May 5, 2016 (Xinhua) --

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu declared Thursday that he will not seek mandate at an extraordinary congress on May 22 when Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will choose a new party leader and prime minister.

"I have no sense of failure or regrets in taking this decision... The change of chairs is more proper. I don't want to run as candidate at the congress," Davutoglu said at a press conference after holding an extraordinary Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting.

Davutoglu said he would not consider being a candidate unless there is a consensus, adding that his relationship of loyalty with the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would continue.

"Congratulations. It is the prime minister's own decision," Erdogan told reporters in his first comment about Davutoglu's decision.

The decision to replace the prime minister came after a meeting of Davutoglu and President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday after weeks of tension between the two statesmen.

"If necessary, I would turn down any position that many may think a mortal could not leave," Davutoglu told lawmakers on Tuesday, triggering speculation that he was ready to leave his position due to disagreement with Erdogan, the founding leader of the AKP.

The AKP's Central Decision and Executive Board's decision come after Davutoglu, who took over the party chairmanship after Erdogan was elected as president in 2014, has recently reshuffled around 15 provincial and district party heads.

Erdogan has reportedly been seeking an executive presidency, which did not have Davutoglu's full support. Under the current parliamentary system, the presidency is mostly a symbolic institution.

Observers say Davutoglu's upcoming ouster is likely to pave the way for a new prime minister who will back Erdogan's plan of changing the constitution and bringing an executive presidency.


Turkey’s ruling AKP will make extraordinary congress decision: Sources

 Hurriyet, May 4, 2016.

Ankara --

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will hold a crucial press meeting on May 5, following an extraordinary the Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting earlier the same day, according to reports that came after the PM met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan amid rumors of a resignation. 

Reports and sources say the party will hold a congress soon, with the PM not running for the seat.

The meeting which was held in the Presidential Palace lasted for an hour and 40 minutes.

Presidential sources said that no further statement would be made saying that the regular meeting ended.

However, prime ministry sources said the party MYK will convene with an agenda of congress. 

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) sources told Hürriyet Daily News that Davutoğlu would not run for a seat at the congress. 

Still, the congress will not be a smooth one since the PM has a clout over some 120 deputies, sources told the Daily News, asking to remain anonymous. 

Broadcaster CNN Türk quoted sources as saying that the congress will be held this month. 

The relations were reportedly tense between the two statesmen amid fresh rumors suggesting that Davutoğlu may be planning to resign after saying on May 3 that he would not hesitate to “walk away from any job position,” all eyes were on a State Day meeting between him and Erdoğan on May 4. State Day meetings traditionally take place on Thursdays, but in Erdoğan’s official schedule posted in the early hours of May 4 it was seen that his regular weekly meeting with Davutoğlu was moved forward.

Erdoğan has said you “should not forget how you got to your post,” in pointed remarks before the meeting. 

“There is no difference between a village head who could not win the hearts of the people in his village or neighborhood and a president who could not win the support of his people,” Erdoğan said in Ankara, addressing a group of neighborhood heads (muhtars) on May 4. 

 “What matters is that you should not forget how you got to your post, what you should do there and what your targets are,” he said, adding that those who win popular support are “invincible.”

“Posts are a means to serve the people. Your hearts and minds should work to serve the nation regardless of whether you’re a muhtar, a mayor, an MP, a minister, a prime minister or a president,” Erdoğan said.

It is not yet clear which side initiated the early meeting. 

The meeting sparked additional interest as it came after Davutoğlu’s address to his party deputies on May 3 at parliament, at 26 minutes the shortest he has ever delivered as leader of the Justice and Development Party. 

Davutoğlu’s May 3 speech came after the AKP’s highest decision-making body, the 50-seat Central Decision and Executive Board (MKYK), ruled to remove his authority to appoint provincial officials on April 29.

“If necessary I would turn down any position that many may think a mortal could not leave,” he said, adding to speculation that he was ready to leave his position due to a challenge to his leadership from the founding leader of the party, Erdoğan. 

Davutoğlu became first prime minister Aug. 27, 2014, a day after Erdoğan became president. Davutoğlu’s leadership came after a term of speculations on who would replace Erdoğan in the party after Erdoğan’s election to the presidency.

The decision by the MKYK to remove Davutoğlu’s right to appoint regional party officials has been widely seen as the opening salvo in a conflict to undermine his authority. Current MKYK members were elected at a September 2015 party congress in which the president, who the constitution demands must remain impartial, reportedly flexed his muscles to closely shape the party. Erdoğan made his clout felt in the congress by having those personally loyal to him elected to the MKYK, overshadowing Davutoğlu’s preferences. At the time, reports circulated before the congress that İzmir deputy Binali Yıldırım, one of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s closest aides who returned to cabinet as the Transport Minister after the Nov. 1 election, was among the 47 MKYK members who signed in favor of the April 29 decision.

“I wouldn’t allow this pure movement and its pure-hearted staff - the only hope of the oppressed all over the world - to become sad,” Davutoğlu vowed in his May 3 speech.

The parliamentary group meeting was followed by a meeting of the Central Executive Board (MYK), the lower body of the ruling AKP. It was MYK’s shortest ever meeting, taking just around 50 minutes.

According to daily Hürriyet columnist Abdülkadir Selvi, Davutoğlu was asked during the MYK meeting about his remarks.

“I haven’t made my decision yet. I’m still in the decision stage. I’ve been assessing the situation,” Davutoğlu said in response, Selvi wrote, citing by sources from the AKP.

“Tonight is Miraç Kandili [the day of the Prophet Muhammad’s ascent to heaven]. We will contemplate. We will recall. We will review ourselves,” Davutoğlu reportedly said, underlining that he would not be involved in any move that would “harm the AKP.”

A member of the MYK, speaking to Selvi after the meeting, said the prime minister used “open-ended expressions.”

According to the AKP’s internal regulations, the right to appoint local party heads originally belonged to the MKYK. However, that right was later given to Erdoğan in 2002, only a year after the party was founded.

The April 29 move came after rumors that Davutoğlu did not consider recommendations from the presidency in recent appointment decisions.

In the past months, the executives of around 15 provincial and district party bodies have been reshuffled.

During the MYK meeting on May 3, Davutoğlu asked Mustafa Ataş, the AKP’s deputy chair in charge of party organization - who Davutoğlu uses to appoint district and provincial heads of the party - to join AKP provincial chairs to brief the MYK about the reasons behind the appointments, daily Hürriyet reported on May 4.

Some party sources said Davutoğlu’s speech at the parliamentary group meeting was marked by “sadness and resentment,” a sign that “sustaining the relationship between Davutoğlu and Erdoğan has become more difficult.” Developments may lead to an extraordinary congress where the leadership would be changed, though other party sources stressed that despite problems between Davutoğlu and Erdoğan, they would be overcome.


Turkish ruling party preparing to replace PM Davutoglu: officials

Reuters, Wednesday, May 4, 2016, 4:57pm EDT

 By Orhan Coskun and Ercan Gurses


Turkey's ruling party is set to replace Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at an extraordinary congress in the coming weeks, officials said on Wednesday, signaling the end of his term as premier and plunging the country into political uncertainty.

The decision, confirmed to Reuters by five AK Party officials, came after a meeting of more than 1-1/2 hours between Davutoglu and President Tayyip Erdogan that followed weeks of increasingly public tension between the two men.

Erdogan wants an executive presidency in Turkey to replace the current parliamentary system, a plan for which Davutoglu has offered only lukewarm support. His departure is likely to pave the way for a successor more willing to back Erdogan's ambition of changing the constitution and strengthening the presidency, a move opponents say will herald growing authoritarianism.

"The president and prime minister reached agreement on the congress ... I don't think Davutoglu will be a candidate again," one of the officials told Reuters.

The leader of the AKP, which has governed Turkey since 2002, also serves as prime minister. Davutoglu's likely departure looms as Turkey faces mounting security challenges, with a Kurdish insurgency in its southeast and the spillover of the war in Syria on its southern border.

The European Union is counting on Turkey to help stop migrants streaming into the continent under a landmark accord brokered by Davutoglu, and Washington is drawing on NATO member Ankara's support in fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

The lira TRYTOM=D3 weakened more than 4 percent to 2.976 to the dollar, its weakest since the end of February, as investors balked at the prospect of more uncertainty.

"Davutoglu's likely early exit as party leader and PM constitutes another episode that show that Erdogan's dominance over the AKP and the executive is absolute and unchallenged," said Wolfango Piccoli, head of research at Teneo Intelligence.

"In the short term policy paralysis will prevail and then, once a new party leader is elected, a more incisive effort to amend the constitution could ensue," he told Reuters.

The AKP official said the congress would be held as soon as May 21 and no later than June 6, (which is the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan), and that Erdogan was adamant there should be no vacuum of power at the head of government.

Three sources close to the presidency said possible successors included government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag. Transport Minister Binali Yildirim and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, Erdogan's son-in-law, had also been touted as possible names, they said.


Erdogan's drive to tighten his grip on power has caused an increasingly open rift with Davutoglu, encompassing issues from relations with Europe to the pre-trial detention of government critics.

Erdogan, a political fighter hardened by a childhood in Istanbul's rough Kasimpasa district, wants a robust presidential system as a guarantee against the fractious coalition politics that hampered Turkey in the 1990s. His opponents see a stronger presidency as a vehicle for his own ambition.

Such a system would have seen Davutoglu, a more mild-mannered academic and former diplomat who lacks Erdogan's natural appeal to crowds, sidelined.

The two have governed in a strained alliance since Erdogan won the presidency in 2014 and Davutoglu replaced him as prime minister. Aides to Davutoglu had largely dismissed the tensions as matters of style rather than substance.

But in the clearest sign yet of a power struggle, the authority to appoint provincial AKP officials was taken from Davutoglu last week. The move reduced Davutoglu's hold over the party grassroots and cemented Erdogan's influence.

The two leaders have appeared at odds over the deal with the EU to stem the flow of illegal migrants from Turkish shores to the Greek islands, in return for which Ankara has been promised accelerated EU accession talks, visa liberalization and financial aid. The deal has been Davutoglu's project, and its future may be less certain after his departure.

Erdogan, frequently critical of the EU, has at times appeared to belittle Davutoglu's progress, most notably efforts to win visa-free travel to Europe by June, the main prize in the eyes of many Turks.

"During my time as prime minister it was announced (this) would come in October 2016," Erdogan said recently. "I don't understand why bringing it forward four months is presented as a win. I'm saddened by the presentation of small things in a bigger light."

Former diplomat and political commentator Sinan Ulgen said the two leaders had always faced a "fundamental dilemma".

"Erdogan's end goal is to consolidate enough popular support to switch to a presidential system. Davutoglu's end goal is to consolidate his own power and be a successful prime minister," said Ulgen, head of the EDAM think-tank in Istanbul.

(Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley and Nick Tattersall; Editing by Mark Heinrich)



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