President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
has accused main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
of being in contact with the coup plotters on the night of the attempted putsch in July 2016.
“Kılıçdaroğlu! The tanks were there at 23:15 p.m. on the night of July 15. You contacted the coup soldiers in tanks and then went to the Bakırköy Municipality in Istanbul, to the house of the Bakırköy mayor,” Erdoğan said in a pre-referendum rally in the southeastern city of Urfa on April 11.
“They preferred to escape rather than try to stop the tanks by standing in front of them when they saw them on the night of July 15,” he added.
Erdoğan recently accused the CHP
leader of being “in contact with the coup plotters” after pro-government private broadcaster A Haber aired footage of Kılıçdaroğlu’s departure from Istanbul’s Atatürk
Airport in the early hours of the coup attempt.
“His contact [with coup plotters] is in question,” Erdoğan said during a radio program late on April 10, claiming that the CHP
leader left the airport after coming to an agreement with the coup plotters.
“This shows that everything was planned,” he added.
The president also stated that he would have never invited Kılıçdaroğlu to a much-heralded “unity rally” in the aftermath of the coup attempt if he had known about the CHP’s “agreement with coup plotters.”
“I would never have invited him [to the Yenikapı rally]. How can I invite someone who made an agreement with coup plotters?” Erdoğan said, referring to a massive unity rally organized to denounce the coup attempt with the participation of all political parties apart from the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Kılıçdaroğlu recently claimed thawt the July 2016 coup attempt, believed to have been masterminded by followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, was a “controlled coup,” saying the government had not taken necessary measures before the coup attempt occurred despite knowing about the potential military move.
Erdoğan responded that Kılıçdaroğlu’s accusations were an insult to the 249 people killed by coup plotting soldiers on the night.