Corruption cracks in Turkey's AKP as three MPs announce resignations from party
A former culture minister, Ertuğrul Günay, drew attention with his criticisms on social media following the police crackdown on demonstrators during the Gezi protest. He has been sent to AKP's disciplinary committee after publically expressing criticism over the graft scandal. DAILY NEWS photoThree lawmakers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who were sent to the party’s joint disciplinary committee with an expulsion request after publically expressing criticism over the graft scandal that has shaken the government announced their resignation from the party Dec. 27.
Former Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay, İzmir MP Erdal Kalkan and Ankara MP Haluk Özdalga have announced their resignations from the party after the AKP’s Central Executive Board (MYK) decided in a meeting late Dec. 26 to send them to discipline due to their "verbal and written remarks stigmatizing [the] party and the government.”
The three lawmakers are joining former Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin in resigning over the graft investigation in which four ministers, all replaced by a cabinet reshuffle on Dec. 25, have been implicated.
Günay, a senior figure who drew attention with his criticisms on social media following the police crackdown on demonstrators during the Gezi protests, said he was "parting ways" with the AKP during a press statement on Dec. 27.
“The central executive board and the president of the party have incited us into a decision that we had difficulties to make. While the party was facing serious accusations, they have tolerated the people responsible for those accusations and sending to discipline those who were inviting them to reason. They have made the decision easier,” Günay said.
“The party evolved in two different wings: The wide base of people who have been oppressed and an overbearing mentality on the top. This mentality has no chance now. At this point, those people [who have this mentality] are sailing to somewhere else, guided by their arrogance. We have come to the point of parting ways,” he said.
Kalkan also announced his resignation from the AKP before waiting for the final decision of the committee via Twitter, taking aim at his party for showing defiance against corruption allegations. “I resign from the AKP letting you know that the world is turning and our people are not stupid,” Kalkan said, slamming Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for not accepting any internal criticism inside the AKP.
“Political parties are not [entities that can be managed] as if someone owns the place. Particularly Mr. Tayyip Erdoğan. They are social entities brought into existence by millions of people,” Kalkan said.
‘No crisis in judiciary, but intervention’
Özdalga, for his part, expressed deep concern over the ongoing situation and urged Prime Minister Erdoğan to pave the way for judgment of the ministers involved in corruption and bribery before the Supreme Council, similar to how the late Prime Minister, Turgut Özal, did at the time.
“This is what leaders who go down in history as statesmen should do,” Özdalga said, speaking at a press conference at Parliament on Dec. 27.
The government should not initiate a similar move after the Council of State annulled a new controversial regulation on judicial police, obliging those carrying out investigations to inform superiors, Özdalga maintained.
“There is no crisis in the judiciary; there is intervention in the judiciary. When this intervention disappears, the crisis will go away. This conduct is not possible to be sustained within the democratic regime,” he said.
Özdalga had come to the fore after calling on President Abdullah Gül to intervene over the graft allegations in what he described as a “state and democracy crisis.” A former head of the Parliament’s Environment Commission, Özdalga campaigned for Turkey to become a part of the Kyoto Protocol in 2009 and is considered among the “liberals” of the AKP.
Twenty-four people have been formally arrested under the corruption investigation that hit Turkey last week, including the sons of former Interior Minister Muammer Güler and former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, who handed over their portfolios Dec. 26 after resigning. Former Environment Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar’s son was also briefly detained during the investigation.
Egemen Bağış also lost his EU minister portfolio as his name was connected with Iranian-origin businessmen Reza Zarrab, considered as the key suspect in the investigation, particularly regarding his transfer of gold and money to Iran via Turkey’s government-controlled Halkbank.
MPs should think if actions will harm party: Deputy PM Arınç
Commenting on the resignations, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç thanked all three lawmakers, but added what they did was “wrong.” “A lawmaker has to think whether his actions will harm the party or not. “They have to show sacrifice themselves if it does [the party] harm,” he said.
Arınç quoted former President Süleyman Demirel’s words saying “Politics are like a train. There are sometimes new people who board and others who get off, but the train pursues its track.”
“We thank those who said ‘the prime minister should also be judged’ after remaining very close with him for years, or showed other reasons for their resignations after 45 years of comradery, or obtained the opportunity to become a lawmaker when, in his own party, no one would stare at their face,” Arınç said implicitly referring to the resigning lawmakers.
Lawmaker blasts ‘pressure’ on second graft probe
Meanwhile, AKP’s Burdur Deputy Hasan Hami Yıldırım criticized the removal of the head prosecutor in a new corruption case reported to be wider than last week’s probe.
Prosecutor Muammer Akkaş announced Dec. 26 that investigation files had been taken “from his hands,” slamming the pressure on the judiciary.
“The pressure on prosecutor Muammer Akkaş is unacceptable. This pressure cannot be considered as legitimate in a rule of law,” Yıldırım said via Twitter.
Last month, İdris Bal who criticized the AKP on the decision to close the test prep schools, resigned after being sent to the disciplinary committee for his remarks.
Bal denounced his party after his designation for not accepting views differing to those of Erdoğan.
During the row, the prime minister had said Bal’s repeated dissenting statements were “unacceptable,” accusing him of breaching the party’s internal discipline.