Turkish President Refuses To Lift State Of Emergency

by Dwayne Torres May 22, 2017, 15:34
Turkish President Refuses To Lift State Of Emergency

Erdogan, who founded the Islamist-rooted AKP in 2001 and led it to victory in a general election a year later, had to give up its leadership almost three years ago when he was elected president, a position traditionally above party politics.

Once Erdogan is elected by the congress, it will be the first time the president will be both party chairman and head of state since the end of the presidency in 1950 of Ismet Inonu, the successor and right-hand-man of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey's modern founder.

Under the previous Constitution's rules, Turkey's president could not be a member of a political party.

Thousands of supporters from all corners of Turkey crammed into the Ankara sports arena gave Erdogan a rock star-like reception as he attended his first major party event since 2014.

Erdogan and current AK Party chairman and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim - who campaigned for the changes, and is voluntarily stepping aside - will address their party members at the congress.

Until the April 17 vote, Turkish presidents had to cut ties with their parties to show their neutrality.

Such sweeping political changes, Erdogan says, are vital to ensure stability in Turkey as it battles Kurdish and Islamist militants and after an attempted coup a year ago that Ankara attributed to supporters of US -based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

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Since then, more than 100,000 people have been purged from the civil service and military while about 47,000 have been arrested, accused of involvement or links to the putschists. A dozen members of parliament from a pro-Kurdish opposition party, including its co-presidents, are behind bars along with about 160 journalists.

Calling the purge necessary for the country's survival, Erdogan said, "Nothing in Turkey will be like what it was before July 15".

And as head of the country and the party, he now has a lot more freedom to make political appointments based on favor rather than ability. He again rejected calls for the removal of the state of emergency, known as Ohal in Turkish, which allows him to rule by decree.

Well-connected Hurriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi previously said Erdogan would oversee a oversee a shake-up of AKP leaders at local level determined by their success in the referendum. "But if that option is no longer there, we can not sit with our hands tied".

He snapped at Turkey's western allies, saying they wished to hold Turkey back by criticising the country's democracy, while backing terror groups.

Erdogan also blasted the EU's treatment of Turkey amid strained ties, especially over a promise of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the Schengen zone as well as 3 billion euros to help Syrian refugees in Turkey. "The decision here belongs to the European Union".

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