If Erdoğan proves coup night claim, I’ll resign: Main opposition CHP leader

If Erdoğan proves coup night claim, I’ll resign: Main opposition CHP leader

If Erdoğan proves coup night claim, I’ll resign: Main opposition CHP leader Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said he is ready to quit politics if President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan proves his claims that he met with the plotters on the night of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by the followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.

Erdoğan on April 10 accused Kılıçdaroğlu of being in contact with coup plotters on the night of the thwarted coup, adding that he would not have invited Kılıçdaroğlu to the “unity rally” in Istanbul’s Yenikapı on Aug. 7 in the aftermath of the coup attempt if he had known about the CHP’s “agreement with coup plotters.” 

When asked about the president’s remarks, Kılıçdaroğlu said “they should prove their claims.” 

“If they prove that I spoke [to the coup plotters] even for a minute, a second or half a second, I will leave politics,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in an interview on private broadcaster CNN Türk on April 12. 

“They are saying I spoke [to the coup plotters] for 12 minutes. They should prove it if I spoke to a FETÖ [Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] member even for a second. What are we going to say to them if they cannot prove it? Calling them ‘liars’ would be light. You have all the evidence you need. You are listening to my phone calls. You listen to my phone 24 hours a day. You are also tracking my e-mails,” he added, denying Erdoğan’s accusations that he fled from the Atatürk Airport on the night of the thwarted coup. 

The CHP leader also said the idea of an undemocratic Turkey will be confirmed if the “yes” votes emerge in the April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments.

“We want to be a part of the civilized world,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that the government was trying to bring the Syrian constitution to Turkey with the new amendments that will be voted in the April 16 referendum. 

“We are fitting the current state [in Turkey] to the situation in Syria. We are adopting the same form of the Syrian constitution. We are criticizing Syria for not being a democracy but we are now bringing the Syrian constitution to our own country by copying it. Why are you bringing Bashar al-Assad’s constitution to your country if you are complaining about him? Why should this country be like Syria,” he said. 

Kılıçdaroğlu drew similarities between the proposed constitution and the Syrian one, saying the role of the executive power in both resembled each other. He added that unlike Syria and Iraq, there was never a “one-man rule” in Turkish history. 

“Despite everything, our democracy remains far ahead of Syria, Iraq and Qatar. But we will resemble them if the changes pass. The Syrian constitution states that the president and the prime minister can use the executive power on behalf of the public. That is the amendment that will be put into our constitution,” he said. 

The CHP leader noted that a crucial weakness in the referendum campaign process was that supporters of the “yes” and “no” campaigns could not discuss it on TV, despite his repeated demands.

He also criticized the unequal conditions given in the referendum campaigns, stressing that the government had made all state resources an endorser of the “yes” campaign.

When asked about a potential live TV discussion with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Kılıçdaroğlu said he wanted to tell the president about the risks in the new constitutional amendments. 

“I would definitely convince him that this constitutional amendment is a huge risk,” he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu also reiterated his stance against a “one-man rule” with the new changes, adding that authority will be centralized in the hands of only one person in terms of the structure and the functioning of the state, including the number of ministers and their authorities. 

“I am saying it clearly. ‘No’ votes will emerge despite all the pressure from the state and the government. The Turkish Republic cannot be entrusted to a single person. The state was not even handed completely to the sultan during the Ottoman era,” he said.

Speaking about the 10 percent election threshold required from political parties to enter parliament, Kılıçdaroğlu said it was actually aimed at Kurdish-origin citizens.  

However, he also criticized the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) for failing to display a clear stance against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

He added that it was unacceptable for a president to label “no” voters as “terrorists,” referring to Erdoğan’s past comments on supporters of the “no” vote aligning their views with terrorist organizations.