AKP official resigns after saying ‘prepare for civil war’ if constitution vote fails
Turan Yılmaz – ANKARA
DHA photoA ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) provincial deputy head on Feb. 16 resigned from his post upon the party’s demand, after delivering remarks warning of a “civil war” if the government-supported constitutional amendments fail to receive approval in the upcoming referendum.
Speaking at a conference organized by the party’s Soma district youth branch on Feb. 13, AKP Manisa provincial deputy head Ozan Erdem suggested there would be a “civil war” in Turkey if voters reject the shift to an executive presidential on April 16.
“If we cannot exceed 50 percent and fail in this referendum vote, prepare for a civil war. We should know that the cards will be shuffled both inside [Turkey] and abroad and the plan tables will be set up again,” Erdem said.
He later resigned from his post upon the AKP’s demand, while claiming that his remarks were “distorted.”
“My words were distorted in a direction that I never intended to say. I am very sad that such a meaning was taken from [my remarks]. I voluntarily presented my resignation from my post and board membership as I thought [the distortion] could damage my party, cause, country, and our brotherhood and unity,” Erdem added.
Earlier in the day, the AKP’s organization head Mustafa Ataş, described the remarks as “unacceptable” and demanded his resignation.
“I called our Manisa provincial head as soon as I learned about the incident and asked him to secure this deputy provincial head’s resignation as of tonight,” Ataş told daily Hürriyet.
“Such an opinion never complies with our philosophy and cannot have a place in our party. I asked our provincial head to ensure that this person immediately makes a statement to the public on the issue, as such opinions are beyond the pale,” he said.
In addition, the AKP’s Manisa provincial head, Berk Mersinli, said Erdem’s remarks did not reflect the party’s views and described them as “unfortunate.”
Mersinli also vowed that the party would refrain from such discourse during the referendum campaign, which would witness “moderate propaganda.”
Erdem’s remarks also drew condemnation from the opposition ranks.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) group deputy chairman and Manisa deputy Özgür Özel said Erdem’s remarks were result of a “politics of fear” conducted strategically by the ruling party as a part of its negative campaign. Özel added that it was “not just a personal crime,” demanding an apology from the AKP to the country.
CHP deputy Tur Yıldız Biçer also issued a written parliamentary question to be answered by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on the issue.
The party’s Manisa provincial head Halil Tokul also said they “condemned a mentality that attempts to change the course of events by increasing tension among society along with fear and pressure.”
Meanwhile, Akhisar chief public prosecutor Mehmet Nadir Yağcı said in a written statement that an investigation had been launched into Erdem’s remarks to investigate whether they “contained expressions that a constitute crime.”