Main opposition CHP leader blames gov’t for sparking in-house row
DHA photoMain opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has accused the presidency and the government of meddling with his party’s internal politics after the results of the April 16 referendum led to the dismissal of a veteran party member and the resignation of the party’s spokesperson, amid voices for change in the party’s leadership ahead of the 2019 elections, daily Cumhuriyet reported on May 8.
“We know everything; the instructions given by the presidency for stirring trouble in the party,” Kılıçdaroğlu told party assembly members at a meeting on May 6, while stressing on recently flared-up tension within the party, according to Cumhuriyet.
Kılıçdaroğlu said some party members deliberately and some others obliviously contributed to the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) ambitions to weaken the country’s largest opposition. “It is me who introduced democracy to this party. No one should be offended by this. And it’s my duty to protect this party. If there is anybody willing to become the chairman, I can help any contender to meet with party delegates. But I won’t allow anybody to weaken this party,” he said.
The party found itself in a bitter row after the referendum resulted in a narrow win for the AKP-led charter changes, as some prominent party figures voiced the need for change in the party’s leadership in order to be better prepared for the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections.
CHP’s former leader Deniz Baykal flared up tension in a televised interview where he called on Kılıçdaroğlu to either announce his candidacy for the forthcoming elections or to hold an extraordinary convention for a change in the leadership.
Fikri Sağlar, a veteran social democrat politician and Mersin deputy for CHP, accused Kılıçdaroğlu of running the party under a one-man rule in an interview with a pro-government newspaper known for its frequent attacks on the main opposition party.
But, irrespective to Baykal and Sağlar’s actions, CHP party spokeswoman and deputy leader Selin Sayek Böke announced her resignation from the party’s top positions after disagreements with Kılıçdaroğlu.
Tense party assembly meeting
CHP’s party assembly meeting on May 6 witnessed harsh debates and accusations regarding the three incidents that fueled the tension.
In the meeting, Sağlar apologized for his statements, but accused the newspaper of distorting his statements about Kılıçdaroğlu. With 38 votes against 19, Sağlar was sent to the party’s disciplinary board with the demand for his expulsion from the party.
Böke received harsh criticism from party assembly members for her resignation, being accused of putting the party at risk. “My resignation is a personal one. I have resigned because I experienced problems as the party spokesperson and have lost respect to the chairman,” she said at the meeting.
Unity CHP’s priority
Meanwhile Kılıçdaroğlu said it was wrong to put forth domestic issues at such a critical period, especially after the “No” camp secured around 49 percent of the votes in the referendum. “There is a very important ‘No’ result. Our mutual responsibility is to increase it and not to decrease it,” he said, adding that all the tension began on the same day President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan returned to his party as a member.
“We will protect this unity. I accept in-house criticisms, and I am open to your suggestions. But these discussions are not constructive,” he said.
‘Kılıçdaroğlu’s tone was not right’
Gürsel Tekin, Istanbul deputy and a strong figure of the CHP, also criticized Kılıçdaroğlu for his punitive statements and for threatening dissident party members with “showing them the door.”
“It was harsh,” Tekin told private broadcaster CNNTürk, but defended Kılıçdaroğlu, saying that it is not the right time to seek a presidential candidate.