In-house fight at MHP enters new legal dispute

In-house fight at MHP enters new legal dispute

Umut Erdem - ANKARA
In-house fight at MHP enters new legal dispute

AFP photo

The ongoing internal fight within the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has entered a new dimension, as the legality of changes made to the party’s internal regulations on June 19 has created a new dispute.

The source of legal confusion is the fact that the opposition block within the party changed 14 articles of the MHP’s internal regulations instead of the previously announced single amendment, as MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli and his aides argued these changes would likely be nullified by the Supreme Court of Appeals. 

The MHP’s internal struggle for a leadership change took a new course following the extraordinary party convention held in Ankara on June 19, despite resistance from Bahçeli. Led by four prominent candidates, namely Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan, Ümit Özdağ and Koray Aydın, the opposition group could garner enough support to hold the convention and remove all legal hurdles in front of challenging current leader Bahçeli at an extraordinary convention on July 10. 

The aim of the convention was to remove the article which made a leadership change at an extraordinary convention impossible. However, last minute proposals to change more articles of the internal regulation to prevent the MHP from imposing disciplinary actions against Bahçeli rivals created a political and legal dispute. 
Oğan, Özdağ and Aydın stressed they had no information about these changes, implying their unease with the Akşener-led move.  

On the legal side, the changes crafted at the convention will first have to be sent to the MHP’s headquarters for approval. But as the MHP has already said it will not recognize the convention and its results, it won’t approve the changes to the internal regulation. In this case, the opposition will apply to the Supreme Court of Appeals to force the MHP to approve the changes.  

“The Supreme Court of Appeals will examine the changes and minutes of the convention. The changes we have made will be applicable in the case the court does not find any violation of the constitution,” said Ayhan Erel, the spokesperson of the trustee board appointed by the court to hold the June 19 convention. 

The MHP leadership, however, believe that these changes will not be approved by the court on the grounds that the opposition violated the law by proposing changes which were not announced in advance. The MHP delegates were invited to the convention for just one change to the internal regulation, it claimed. 

Oğan still MHP member

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Appeals on June 20 annulled a decision by the MHP to dismiss Oğan from the nationalist party for disciplinary reasons. 

The MHP disciplinary board had dismissed Oğan’s membership in the party after an inquiry into his statements against Bahçeli. After a lower court ruled to annual the disciplinary move, the MHP leadership appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeals. 

“From the very beginning, I have expressed my confidence in the Turkish justice [system]. I do so again. Justice stood with me at a time when interventions on the judiciary have been increasing,” Oğan said.