AKP board takes back key authority from Davutoğlu

AKP board takes back key authority from Davutoğlu

Nuray Babacan - ANKARA
AKP board takes back key authority from Davutoğlu

The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) highest decision-making body has taken back from Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu the authority to appoint AKP provincial and district heads, a move widely considered to be another step to reducing the leader’s power over the party organization.

The 50-seat Central Decision and Executive Board’s (MKYK) decision was made with the support of 47 members, after Prime Minister Davutoğlu put the first signature on it at a meeting that started with a five-and-a-half-hour delay on April 29.

Although the MKYK members arrived at the AKP headquarters on time for the planned 10 a.m. start, they were initially told that the meeting would start with a delay because Davutoğlu had just returned from an official visit to Qatar. Later they were told that Davutoğlu was holding “private meetings,” which caused the delay of the meeting.

When Davutoğlu eventually arrived at the party headquarters he reportedly told the meeting that “a group of MKYK members” had presented the written proposal. This was referring to the 47 members who signed the decision, including İzmir deputy Binali Yıldırım, one of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s closest aides, who returned to cabinet as the Transport Minister after the Nov. 1 election.

“I trust the MKYK,” Davutoğlu was quoted as saying before voting on the proposal.

According to internal regulations of the AKP, founded in 2001, the right to appoint local party heads originally belonged to the MKYK. However, it was later given to founding leader, current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2002.

The April 29 move came after rumors that Davutoğlu, who took over as AKP head after Erdoğan became president in 2014, did not consider recommendations from the presidency in recent appointment decisions.

In recent months, the executives of around 15 provincial and district party bodies have been reshuffled.

The move marked the second big challenge faced by Davutoğlu in terms of his party leadership, after a September party congress in which the constitutionally impartial president reportedly flexed his muscles to closely shape the party. Erdoğan made his clout felt at the congress by having personally loyal names elected to the MKYK, overshadowing Davutoğlu’s preferences, after the latter’s reelection as AKP leader. At the time, reports circulated before the congress that Yıldırım was testing the waters for challenging Davutoğlu to become party leader.

‘If there is crisis, I’ll tell you’

AKP spokesman Çelik denied reports of a crisis within the party.

“If a crisis takes place, I’ll be telling you. Don’t worry,” he told reporters at a press conference late on April 29 following the MKYK meeting.

“It is not right to approach this as a radical stance. Our relationships in the MKYK, the MYK [Central Executive Board], and in other bodies are based on rules of fraternity. It is often being asked whether there is a crisis, but the AK Parti’s MYK, MKYK and the cabinet are a single piece and a whole. There is no crisis,” Çelik stressed.