Bahçeli vows MHP will not ‘surrender’ to Gülenists

Bahçeli vows MHP will not ‘surrender’ to Gülenists

Bahçeli vows MHP will not ‘surrender’ to Gülenists

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The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will not “surrender” to the Gülen movement, its head Devlet Bahçeli said on April 12, commenting on challenges to his leadership after an Ankara court’s appointment of a three-member panel to organize an extraordinary congress.

“We don’t have a party that will be surrendered to the parallel structure,” Bahçeli said at a parliamentary group meeting of his party, using the Turkish government’s term to refer to sympathizers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. 

He said the party should wait until the scheduled date, March 18, 2018, to hold its regular congress.

“An extraordinary congress will not be held. We can’t expect sincerity from a person who wants an extraordinary congress rather than waiting for the scheduled one. I’m seeing people who are already attempting to stage victory parade. I’m also particularly watching the joy of transatlantic fugitives, parallel figures, and those who want to infiltrate into the MHP,” Bahçeli said. 

“I want to address those who raised hell when trustees were appointed to their institutions but were happy when a trustee was appointed to the MHP: You deserve whatever you have experienced up to now. They are puppets of the U.S. and a disgrace to Islam,” he added.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) accuse Gülen heading an illegal organization that Erdoğan believes is trying to topple the AKP government with followers in in the police, the judiciary and other state institutions.

Trustees have been appointed to a number of seized Gülen-linked businesses and media outlets. 

On April 8, an Ankara court accepted the demands of dissident MHP members to force an extraordinary party congress, appointing a three-member panel - consisting of Mehmet Bilgiç, Ayhan Erel and Ali Sağır - to organize the congress.

Dissidents have been criticizing Bahçeli since the MHP’s poor showing in the Nov. 1, 2015 election, in which it only won around 11 percent of the votes and 40 seats in parliament.

Bahçeli has led the party since July 1997, but MHP dissidents have collected enough delegate votes to hold an extraordinary convention to challenge the party’s leadership.

Former MHP lawmakers Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan, Koray Aydın and Ümit Özdağ have already expressed their intention to run for the party leadership, but their attempts to hold a convention had been blocked by party headquarters. 

The call for an extraordinary convention was taken to court for a final decision.