Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has announced that he is quitting his role as head of the government and AK (Justice and Development) Party. The announcement at a press conference earlier today followed intense speculation over the past 48 hours that the Turkish PM was going to resign following a series of differences with President Erdoğan.
The press conference was held following Davutoğlu’s meeting with senior party members, who form the party’s Central Executive Board (MKYK), this morning.
He told the press about his achievements during his time as Turkey’s prime minister, a position he has held since 28 August 2014, including two General Election victories and addressing the country’s multi-faceted problems with terror. He stressed how he valued his friendship with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the high regard in which he holds the Turkish President. However, the Turkish PM also added that his resignation was “not my choice, but a necessity for the unity of the party.”
Davutoğlu’s comments conflicted with those of the President, who said: “I wish him well. It is the prime minister’s own decision.”
A day before, on May 4, the two men held a 90-minute meeting. Just before it commenced, the President made a cutting remark to Davutoğlu: “You should not forget how you got your post.”
The tension between the two leaders has been brewing for months. Erdoğan – Turkey’s most formidable leader since its founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – wants to change Turkey’s governance to a Presidential system giving him control of the country, which Davutoğlu failed to fully champion.
Erdoğan to Davutoğlu: “You should not forget how you got your post”
Other visible disagreements have occurred over the choice of AKP prospective parliamentary candidates in November’s General Elections, the President’s public demands for a clampdown against academics and journalists, and his refusal for the government to engage in talks to end the Kurdish crisis in southeast Turkey, which has left parts of the country looking like war-torn Syria.
Davutoğlu, in keeping with his quiet temperament, has sought a middle way to the more extreme positions adopted by the President. Yet the increasingly authoritarian Erdoğan has regarded his prime minister’s tempered statements as dissent.
The breaking point came last week when the MKYK, hugely loyal to Erdoğan, voted to strip Davutoğlu of the power to appoint local party officials. Such decisions had originally rested with the MKYK, but during his 11-year-tenure as Turkey’s PM, Erdoğan had been given the right to determine his own national team. Davutoğlu was away on an official trip to Qatar when the vote took place.
In another slight to the Turkish PM, ugly claims were made by a new mystery blogger over the weekend. Calling him/herself The Pelican Brief, the anonymous poster claimed to be a diehard fan of the President, “who would sacrifice his soul for the CHIEF”. Their hard-hitting article focussed on the country’s growing list of traitors, with Ahmet Davutoğlu named among them. Many commentators believe the post was a deliberate warning to Davutoğlu not to step out of line.
Following today’s announcement, the AKP will hold an extra-ordinary congress on May 22 to select its new leader. All four of the front runners are close to President Erdoğan. They include his son-in-law Berat Albayrak and Deputy PM Bekir Bozdağ.
Main photo of Ahmet Davutoğlu attending a conference on Somalia in London on 7 May 2013, taken by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Flickr/Wikipedia