İYİ Party shaken by claims over Istanbul head’s alleged links to FETÖ
The opposition İYİ (Good) Party has been shaken by claims that its Istanbul provincial branch chair, Buğra Kavuncu, is a member of FETÖ, a terror organization blamed for the July 2016 coup attempt, after allegations made by prominent dissident member Ümit Özdağ.
Özdağ made the claim during a televised interview on Oct. 19, starting a heated debate both within the party and Turkish politics, with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials seeking an explanation from İYİ Party chair Meral Akşener about the claims.
“He had served as the deputy leader of Kazakhstan Turkish Businessman Association, the biggest non-governmental organization of FETÖ abroad,” Özdağ said, recalling that the institution was banned following the 2016 coup attempt.
Özdağ also claimed that Kavuncu was the niece of Enver Altaylı, who was imprisoned on charges of being a member of FETÖ. “I have informed and warned Akşener about this person. But she told me that she talked with two senior officials about him, and she has not heard anything wrong.”
Ties between Özdağ and Akşener worsened in the aftermath of İYİ Party’s general convention where a prominent figure, Koray Aydın, had reportedly used his influence to drop Özdağ, while another party member had used his position to sack a dozen MPs from the party’s executive management. Led by Özdağ and Aytun Çıray, the dissident group has begun to protest Akşener by not attending party meetings, including weekly parliamentary group meetings.
Özdağ also criticized the party for getting closer to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). “Those who argue this are liars,” Akşener replied on Oct. 20.
Kavuncu: I will file lawsuit against Özdağ
Kavuncu has categorically denied accusations voiced by Özdağ and said he would file a complaint about the dissident member. “Is it this cheap to play with the honor of the people?” he asked.
On questions, Akşener said that Kavuncu’s attempt to bring this claim to the court would provide necessary conditions for Özdağ on whether he can prove them.
Instead of commenting on the internal discussions, Akşener has drawn attention to a statement by the AKP’s deputy parliamentary group leader, Bülent Turan, who argued that these discussions would bring an end to the party.
“We knew that our party would get attacked when our votes hit 13 and 15 percent,” Akşener said, adding Turan’s statements were a clear demonstration of the nature of the attack.
Turan tried to clarify his statements late Oct. 20 and said he was only making political assessments.
“The dissolution of the party is inevitable as a result of this row,” Turan said, arguing that his words were not an intervention in the internal affairs of another party.
“It’s not right to suggest that this is an internal debate when one of your lawmakers claims that the party’s Istanbul head is a member of FETÖ. You better make an explanation,” he said.