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LOCAL > Gül, Erdoğan engage in proxy presidential row

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2011 file photo shows Turkish President Abdullah Gül (R) and PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a military event in Istanbul. Responding to a question if he will consider to re-run for the presidency, Gül says it is too early to make comments on the issue.  AA Photo

This 2011 file photo shows Turkish President Abdullah Gül (R) and PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a military event in Istanbul. Responding to a question if he will consider to re-run for the presidency, Gül says it is too early to make comments on the issue. AA Photo

A proxy debate has been sparked over the presidential system, with contrasting statements coming from different senior members of the government, including those close to Gül.

A spokesperson for President Abdullah Gül has said he might run for another presidential term, while a senior Justice and Development Party (AKP) official said Gül would make “a gesture,” by not running for presidency in the upcoming elections. Gül, however, has said it is too early to comment on his plans.
In an interview published in daily Vatan yesterday, presidential spokesperson Ahmet Sever said Gül might run for the presidency again. Although Sever highlighted that this was only his personal view, the remarks still led to concerns over a possible clash between Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the run-up to the next presidential elections.

“In this process, there have been developments which were very saddening for Mr. President,” Sever was quoted by Vatan as saying, in an apparent reference to a recent Constitutional Court decision on the 2014 presidential elections and the debate surrounding this ruling. “This is my personal view, the Constitutional Court has made this decision, but he [Gül] may well run for the presidency again, why not?” Sever said.

Meanwhile, Gül has said that “for now it was too early to make a comment on his [plans for] re-election [within the] presidency,” in a meeting closed to the press, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

President Gül welcomed a number of visitors to his Istanbul office yesterday, including Güneş Taş, head of the Taxi Drivers’ Foundation. Taş told the Daily News that he had asked Gül if he was thinking of becoming a candidate for president one more time, and that Gül had kindly answered the question by saying: “it is too early to speak on this matter for now.”

Emphasis on ‘brotherhood’

In response to the interview with Ahmet Sever, the AKP’s Hüseyin Çelik maintained yesterday that Gül would make “a gesture” by not running for the presidency again in the upcoming elections. “It would be called a gesture, if he [Gül] stepped back from being a candidate again,” Çelik was quoted as saying by daily Hürriyet.

Back in 2002, when the ruling party first swept to power, Gül served as stand-in prime minister as Erdoğan was banned from politics due to a 1998 court ruling.

In 2007, Gül ran for president despite the military’s objection, while Erdoğan stepped aside for Gül by presenting him as “my brother,” in a sign of his full support for Gül’s presidential candidacy.

“There is a deep brotherhood and friendship between Gül and Erdoğan, which cannot be jeopardized for any office,” Çelik said on his Twitter account earlier in the day.

“The feeling of full mutual trust has been tested many times in the past. Some may not understand this friendship. We may feel out of place [about this friendship] because there is not much precedent in our political past,” Çelik said.

July/31/2012

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