Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek leaves post to put end to political saga
Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek left his post on Oct. 28, the end of a long-running saga amid a number of resignations from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ahead of the local elections in 2019.
During his speech, Gökçek said his resignation was requested by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“I am not quitting because I am unsuccessful or tired. I am quitting because Erdoğan has asked me to do so. I am complying with Erdoğan’s orders, whom I believe will make my country a leader country,” Gökçek said on Oct. 28, adding he believes in “obeying orders no matter what” for the good of a cause.
“I am a man of a cause and my cause includes following the orders of the leader,” he said, also adding that his “cause does not include causing harm for personal gain.”
Gökçek’s resignation comes after the resignation of Kadir Topbaş as Istanbul mayor and the resignations of the AKP mayors of Niğde, Düzce and Bursa, amid warning from Erdoğan for the party to avoid what he calls “metal fatigue.”
Erdoğan on Oct. 13 said the AKP was working on a “restructure for the 2019 elections” and “could not afford to waste time.”
“Some of our friends should not feel uncomfortable about this. On the contrary, if our management has made such a decision, then they will show the same courtesy our Istanbul mayor has shown, and in that way, strengthen our movement,” Erdoğan said, referring the resignation of Topbaş on Sept. 22.
After presenting a summary of works carried out by the Ankara Municipality during his term, Gökçek, who announced his decision to resign following a meeting with Erdoğan on Oct. 23 at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, said he has given his years to the AKP.
“This movement [the AKP] has made countless sacrifices for our people under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In addition to projects that have increased the quality of life, countless services have been presented. Those in need have been looked after. We have tried to contribute to this government,” he added.
Saying Erdoğan had previously thought he could contribute by being mayor “when we were building this hope,” Gökçek noted that he “now thinks I should contribute by resigning.”
“I was worried if I did not resign, I would be unfair towards the hopes we believed in,” Gökçek also said, while adding there were those who urged him not to resign.
“My love and loyalty [to the AKP] cannot be a topic of discussion,” he said.
At the end of his speech, Gökçek prayed for those “who try to cause trouble among us to not stand a chance.”
Gökçek was first elected as the mayor of Turkish capital in 1994 and joined the AKP in the early 2000s. He was re-elected in Ankara in four consecutive elections in 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014, becoming the first Ankara mayor to keep his post for five terms.