Erdoğan’s right hand man tests waters for AKP leadership at convention
Nuray BABACAN - Turan YILMAZ - ANKARA
DHA photoWith one day to go until its general convention on Sept. 12, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been rocked by news that Binali Yıldırım, one of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s closest aides, is testing the waters for a leadership challenge to AKP head and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
There are reports that Former Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım has contacted scores of AKP delegates over his potential return to the party as leader, while his team has also intensified its efforts to promote Yıldırım. In private talks with friends, Yıldırım is said to be mulling whether to put himself forward as a potential candidate.
Davutoğlu was elected as the AKP leader at an extraordinary convention in late August 2014 to replace Erdoğan, who was elected as Turkey’s president earlier in the same month. There has since been wide speculation about disagreements between the two men on a number of issues.
Yıldırım’s move has annoyed Davutoğlu and his aides, who evaluated the situation in-depth during a lengthy meeting in his official residence.
“There can be no race for the leadership at the convention. Any decision on who’s going to run for the position must be given before the convention,” sources from the AKP told daily Hürriyet.
Eyes on Erdoğan
As all eyes have now turned to President Erdoğan, who had separate meetings with Davutoğlu and Yıldırım on Sept. 10. Erdoğan’s meeting with Davutoğlu took place as part of routine official talks.
Sources suggest that the current uncertainty will be removed after further key meetings in the party leadership.
Some believe that Yıldırım’s move is in fact an attempt to put pressure on Davutoğlu and force him to appoint names closer to Erdoğan to the AKP’s executive board. The Sept. 12 upcoming convention is due to renew the AKP’s main decision-making bodies and there have been rumors that Davutoğlu would try to change the lists with figures closer to him.
Meanwhile, a number of powerful AKP figures who have the chance to return to active politics due to the removal of the internal party three-term limit are lobbying to secure a good place in the AKP’s executive board.
Jostling over executive board
Among the names that Erdoğan wants to see in the top decision-making bodies are former ministers Bekir Bozdağ, Ömer Çelik, Mücahit Arslan. Nihat Ergün, Faruk Çelik, Haluk İpek, Numan Kurtulmuş, Sadullah Ergin and Abdülhamit Gül, as well as prominent current figures Yalçın Akdoğan, Efkan Ala, Aziz Babuşçu, Nihat Zeybekci, Mustafa Şentop, Nurettin Nebati, Adnan Boynukara and Lütfiye Selma Çam
Among names close to Davutoğlu bidding to enter the party management are Lütfi Elvan, Cevdet Yılmaz, Vedat Bilgin, Taha Özhan and Ertan Aydın.
The elections to the party’s executive board will be held at the convention on Sept 12.
According to internal AKP regulations, anyone who can garner the support of at least 20 percent of 1,400 delegates can be nominated as a leadership candidate.