CHP leader builds new A-team, appoints two top advisors

CHP leader builds new A-team, appoints two top advisors

CHP leader builds new A-team, appoints two top advisors

The new party management was announced on Sept. 14, a day after the 60-seated Party Assembly held its first meeting under Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s renewed leadership. AA Photo

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has renewed nearly half of the party's management to take it to the 2015 parliamentary elections. He has also appointed two new chief advisors to consult on foreign policy and political planning.

The new shadow Cabinet was announced on Sept. 14, one day after the 60-seated Party Assembly held its first meeting under Kılıçdaroğlu’s renewed leadership. According to a statement issued by the CHP, Deputy Head Gürsel Tekin will continue to serve as the party’s secretary-general.

The new list of deputy leaders and their areas of responsibility is as follows:

Tekin Bingöl: Party organization and its structuring abroad;
Haluk Koç: Administrative and financial affairs;
Bülent Tezcan: Election and legal issues;
Seyhan Erdoğdu: Inter-party education;
Sezgin Tanrıkulu: Human rights;
Veli Ağbaba: Local governance;
Yakup Akkaya: Trade unions and other civil society organizations;
Faik Öztrak: Business groups;
Selin Sayek Böke: Economic policies;
Burhan Şenatalar: Social policies;
Şafak Pavey: Environmental policies;
Sencer Ayata: Research and development;
Ercan Karakaş: Culture and arts;
Mehmet Bekaraoğlu: Public relations;
Enis Berberoğlu: Communication and media.

Bekaroğlu, a former conservative politician; Berberoğlu, the former editor-in-chief of daily Hürriyet; Karakaş, a veteran social democrat politician; Böke, an academic expert on economics; and Şenatalar, a well-known academic on social development are all new transfers who have been included in the CHP's party management.

One of the most disputed figures of the new management is Bekaroğlu, who spent nearly his entire political career in the ranks of conservative political parties, but the experienced politician rebuffed such criticisms. 

“It’s us that need the CHP and not vice versa. Turkey needs the CHP. I came to this party because I believe in its policies and values. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” Bekaroğlu has said in response to these criticisms.

Two chief advisors: Özçelik and Toprak

Kılıçdaroğlu is planning to appoint two chief advisers to work directly with him: Murat Özçelik on foreign policy and the Kurdish peace process and Erdoğan Toprak on policy planning. Both recently failed to be elected to the Party Assembly and thus cannot be appointed as deputy leaders.

Özçelik built his career at the Foreign Ministry as a diplomat and served as Turkey’s Ambassador to Baghdad after his assignment as Turkey’s special envoy to Iraq. His deep background on Iraq and wide network in northern Iraq, Baghdad, and in Washington all helped him be appointed as Turkey’s first civilian bureaucrat to lead the Under Secretariat of Public Security and Order, an institution specifically established to coordinate the state’s works to end the decades-old Kurdish question. He felt obliged to resign from his job after serious disagreements with the government over the process.

Under his new capacity, he will be the main person responsible in drawing the main opposition party’s policies in the field of foreign policy and the Kurdish question.

Toprak has long been one of Kılıçdaroğlu’s closest aides, but was unable to avoid being vetoed by party delegates in the Party Assembly elections.