Erdoğan challenges Kılıçdaroğlu to run in presidential elections
Addressing the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group in the capital Ankara on April 24, Erdoğan slammed Kılıçdaroğlu for holding talks with other opposition parties to come up with a joint presidential candidate to compete against him.
“Mr. Kemal, don’t waste time. Come and become a candidate now. Why are you looking for a candidate here and there? Why don’t you become a candidate?” Erdoğan said, speaking at his party’s parliament group meeting on April 24.
“It suits a chairman to stand for candidacy. Let’s see how many votes the nation will give you,” Erdoğan added.
Erdoğan also described the angry exchange of words between AKP and CHP lawmakers on April 23 as “disgraceful” and “disastrous.”
“What we witnessed on April 23 was disgraceful. I strongly condemn those who used their problematic politics to ruin a national holiday,” Erdoğan said, referring to the CHP lawmakers.
“You were not one of those who resisted the [July 15, 2016] coup attempt by standing in front of military tanks. You were even applauding them,” he added.
“Where were you, Mr. Kemal? You were in Bakırköy [Istanbul district], drinking your coffee while we were managing an operation against the coup plotters,” Erdoğan said.
On April 23, Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the AKP for undermining the legislative authority of the parliament, saying the ruling party staged a “civil coup” on July 20, 2016 by issuing the state of emergency.
AKP Deputy Group Chair Mustafa Elitaş then accused Kılıçdaroğlu of “not being able to show resistance” during the July 2016 coup attempt.
CHP Deputy Group Chair Özgür Özel responded to Elitaş, stating that it was Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım who was “hiding” and claiming that Yıldırım had “spent the night [of July 15] in the Ilgaz Tunnel.”
A visibly angry Yıldırım blasted Özel, saying “it was the prime minister who was instructing the planes to hit the [pro-coup] scoundrels.”
Erdoğan said this incident itself “is a proof that it is right to go for a shift” to a presidential system.
Erdoğan also criticized the 15 deputies from the CHP who left their party on April 22 to join the newly-formed İYİ (Good) Party.
“Your so-called 15 deputies are leaving your party and are joining the İYİ Party,” said Erdoğan, adding that the 15 deputies do not sit at the İYİ Party’s seats in the general assembly.
“This means they did not like the place where you sent them,” Erdoğan added.
Parliament on April 20 passed a bill calling for early elections on June 24, with 386 lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties supporting the move. The polls had originally been expected to be held in November 2019.