MHP dissidents fail to hold controversial congress
ANKARADissidents in the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) failed to hold a controversial extraordinary party congress due to police security measures in front of an Ankara venue that was to host the gathering on May 15, following days of contradicting verdicts by lower local courts.
Former MHP lawmakers Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan, Koray Aydın and Ümit Özdağ, who have voiced their intention to run for the party leadership, tried to reach the Büyük Ankara Hotel in the same vehicle, but were blocked by police.
“The MHP is not rudderless. The general assemblies say the last words, not the party heads,” read the joint statement from the Akşener, Oğan, Aydın and Özdağ.
“We won’t leave the area until we see the written order of the police,” said Akşener, while Oğan said the police did not have an official document that could prevent the delegates from reaching the hotel.
“We invited the 25th bailiff here. We want an official document, not a verbal statement,” Oğan said.
The police set up barricades in front of the hotel and the roads around it, as the MHP delegates circulated a new petition to reach a required 621 signatures to take the party to a congress.
Dissidents within the MHP had approached the courts to force an extraordinary congress in the wake of the party’s poor electoral result in last November’s general election.
A total of 543 delegates then sent a petition to party headquarters demanding an extraordinary congress in the aftermath of the election, which saw the MHP lose its position as the third largest group in the parliament, falling behind the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
However, the party management denounced the call, describing the attempt as illegal while also launching internal probes into several dissidents.
Hundreds of party members stood in front of a training center belonging to Customs and Trade Ministry on May 15, chanting slogans against the MHP’s head office.
The Supreme Court of Appeals, the highest authority to decide on the fate of the congress, announced earlier this week that it would make a decision within this month.
MHP dissidents have been pushing for an extraordinary congress to be held, which has been repeatedly rejected by long-running party head Devlet Bahçeli, who is only the second leader of the party.
The Ankara Second Local Enforcement Court accepted the objections of the MHP dissidents on May 13, ordering the cancellation of another court’s decision in the Gemerek district of the Central Anatolian province of Sivas, which had halted the extraordinary party congress process.
Speaking after the decision, the dissidents vowed that the congress would be held on May 15, while the court in Gemerek again stated that it could not be held legally.
Aydın stressed that they were waiting for the decision of the Supreme Court and that they would hold the congress in June.
“I want to cry because of the situation here,” Aydın said.
Two courts in the Tosya district of the Black Sea province of Kastamonu and one in the Gemerek district decided to prevent the extraordinary party congress from occurring as a precaution, MHP Deputy Chair Oktay Öztürk stated April 29.
An Ankara court previously appointed a three-member panel to organize an extraordinary congress, accepting the demands of dissident MHP members, against which the party HQ appealed.
MHP dissidents have criticized Bahçeli since the MHP’s poor showing in the Nov. 1, 2015, election, in which it only won 11 percent of the vote and 40 seats in parliament.
Bahçeli has led the party for almost two decades since July 1997, but disgruntled MHP members have collected enough delegate votes to hold an extraordinary convention to challenge the party’s leadership.