MHP says it ‘doesn’t recognize’ trustees’ snap congress date
AA photoThe embattled leader of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has said he “does not recognize” the extraordinary congress date announced by a court-appointed trustee panel, repeating his earlier statements that the congress will be held on July 10, in line with the party administration’s decision.
“If they want a congress, why not have it on July 10?” MHP chair Devlet Bahçeli said during his address to the MHP parliamentary group on May 31, one day after the trustee panel announced that the extraordinary congress would be held in Ankara on June 19.
“We will change our party bylaws and conduct a leadership election during the extraordinary congress on July 10. We do not recognize any other congress date,” Bahçeli added.
The trustee panel’s decision came less than a week after the MHP announced on May 25 that a party congress would be held on July 10. The MHP agreed to hold a snap congress after the Supreme Court of Appeals approved a local court’s decision for the party to set a congress date.
Bahçeli also criticized the Supreme Court of Appeals for what he described as an “unjust” and “partisan” verdict, amid an ongoing debate over judicial independence that erupted after the head of the top appeals court accompanied President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his visits outside Ankara.
“A different verdict could not be expected from an institution led by a mentality that passionately applauds Mr. Erdoğan, with whom he [Supreme Court of Appeals President İsmail Rüştü Cirit] gathered for tea in Rize and praised as the head of state in Kırşehir,” the MHP head said.
In its May 30 announcement, the three-member trustee panel announced a different date for an MHP snap congress, underlining that it is the “sole authorized functionary on deciding and executing a party congress.”
The MHP administration swiftly responded to the panel’s decision, saying they did not recognize its ordinance.
“We do not recognize the date, June 19, as announced by the trustee panel. The date of our congress is July 10. We will hold the congress on July 10,” MHP Deputy Head Semih Yalçın said, adding to the confusion that has been continuing for weeks over the matter.
Party dissidents failed to hold a controversial extraordinary party congress due to police security measures in front of an Ankara venue that was to host the gathering on May 15, after days of contradicting verdicts by lower local courts.
Former MHP lawmakers Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan, Koray Aydın and Ümit Özdağ, who voiced their intention to run for the party leadership, had tried to reach the venue to hold the congress but were blocked by the police.
The dissidents criticize Bahçeli, who has been the MHP head since 1997, over the party’s poor showing in the Nov. 1, 2015, election, in which it only won 11 percent of the vote and 40 seats in parliament.