MHP trustees announce new date for snap party congress
REUTERS photoA trustee panel appointed by a court to organize an extraordinary congress for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) amid dissidents’ efforts to unseat the party’s long-time chair has once again created controversy by announcing a different date for the snap congress than the one previously declared by the party’s sitting leader.
“At this stage, our panel has decided, as the sole authorized functionary on deciding and executing a congress, to hold the grand extraordinary congress at the Büyük Anadolu Hotel’s Esenboğa Thermal facilities in Ankara on June 19, 2016, at 10 a.m.,” the official statement released by the three-member panel announced yesterday.
The announcement came less than a week after MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli issued a written statement on May 25 declaring that the party will hold a congress to elect its leader on July 10 and Bahçeli would run for reelection.
Bahçeli said the MHP administration had made the decision to “put an end to the debate” and “prevent any harm to party unity.”
His announcement was preceded by a statement by the party’s deputy leader, Semih Yalçın, on May 24, saying a party congress was set to be held in July, hours after Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals approved a local court’s decision for the MHP to hold a congress.
The MHP administration, however, swiftly responded to the decision of the three-member panel, consisting of Mehmet Bilgiç, Ayhan Erel and Ali Sağır, and said they did not recognize its ordinance.
“We do not recognize the date, June 19, as announced by the trustee panel. The date of our congress is July 10. We will hold the congress on July 10,” Yalçın said, contributing to the confusion that has been continuing for weeks, as courts and politicians failed to reach an agreement on the matter.
Party dissidents 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, after days of contradicting verdicts by lower local courts.
Former MHP lawmakers Meral Akşener, Sinan Oğan, Koray Aydın and Ümit Özdağ, who voiced their intention to run for the party leadership, had tried to reach the venue to hold the congress but were blocked by the police.
The dissidents criticize Bahçeli, who has been the MHP head since 1997, over the party’s poor showing in the Nov. 1, 2015, election, in which it only won 11 percent of the vote and 40 seats in parliament.
According to polls, as announced by dissident candidates, Bahçeli’s removal could mean a surge of support for the MHP and might complicate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s efforts to push through reforms to boost the powers of the presidency.