AKP has not asked resignation from any mayors: Spokesperson
Debates are continuing to roil over the rumored future resignations of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) mayors, with party spokesperson Mahir Ünal denying that the AKP’s headquarters has demanded any resignations.
“Assessments on our mayors are ongoing. As of now, our headquarters have not asked for the resignation of any of our mayors. However, as our President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] has said, that does not necessarily mean that this will not be the case in the future,” Ünal told private broadcaster Habertürk on Oct. 4.
His comments came amid reports suggesting that the AKP has requested the resignation of six mayors of prominent Turkish cities held by the AKP including the capital Ankara, Bursa, Balıkesir and Düzce.
“There is nothing that should cause any confusion. This disinformation is annoying everyone,” Ünal added, describing the rumors as “misinformation.”
Erdoğan had already denied the reports on Oct. 3, saying that asking for resignations was “not on the agenda” of the AKP at present but adding that this “does not mean it will not be the case in the future.” His comments came amid speculation that Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek was on the verge of resigning from his post.
The president stated that the AKP is in a process of “organizational restructuring” in a bid to prepare for three planned elections in 2019.
“Receiving 50 percent plus one vote is not easy. In this framework, we have made serious changes in our organizations. Most recently, four of our provincial heads were changed, as we shared with the public,” Ünal said, referring to the resignation of the AKP’s provincial heads in Giresun, Niğde, Nevşehir and Kırıkkale on Oct. 3.
“Our president has said that we will first make an assessment of our organizational structure, then review our mayoralties. He has also asked the government to prepare a 180-day action plan,” he added.
“Local governments are sharing their assessments about their debt, needs, demands and their pre-election promises, as well as how much of their promises they have been able to keep. We do not want any problems and we do not have any tolerance for failure. In this perspective we are in contact with our mayors in these assessments,” Ünal said.
He also addressed main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s criticism of the resignation rumors, in which the CHP head accused any future resignation of “not defending the rights that come from being elected.”
“Those who will resign are guilty. But I will respect those who do not resign, saying instead ‘I have been elected by the public,’” Kılıçdaroğlu said on Oct. 3, addressing his party group in parliament.
“Those who come to office in elections should leave office in elections,” he added.
Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized the AKP’s “organizational restructuring,” saying it was part of a bid “to cover up corruption.”
“Those who resign are either members of [the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] FETÖ or they are corrupt,” he had said.
In response, Ünal said the ruling AKP “stands for the rights coming from being elected.”
“Yes, those who have come to office in elections should leave office in elections. This is a subject that we fight for more than anything. A decision about a city should not be taken with just a couple of people’s consultation,” he said.
“But if we have found a problem stemming from our local head, for example, we will say to our provincial head, ‘Thank you’ [goodbye],” he added.
Balıkesir mayor resists resignation
Meanwhile Düzce Mayor Mehmet Keleş has resigned from his post following persistent rumors, but daily Hürriyet reported on Oct. 4 that Balıkesir Mayor Edip Uğur has been resisting resignation.
“I will not resign. You can dismiss me if you want,” Uğur reportedly told AKP officials.
It had been reported that Uğur, who is also a deputy chair of the AKP, resigned from his posts in the party and decided to continue as an independent mayor.
Legally, mayors can only be dismissed from their position if they have left their office for more than 20 days, been convicted with a prison sentence of more than one year, got a health condition that prevents them from working, or been the subject of a decision by the Council of State following an investigation.