Opposition slams alleged persuasive visit to Gül as ‘military intervention’
Opposition parties have strongly responded to speculations that Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın have visited former President Abdullah Gül to convince the latter not to run for presidency, stating that such a visit “amounts to a military intervention of politics.”
“It is clearly putschism, an effort to design politics at the hands of the military. With this visit, the July 20 civil coup wore a [military] uniform,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) spokesperson Bülent Tezcan said in a press conference on April 30.
Tezcan referred to CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s criticism of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for undermining the legislative authority of the parliament, saying the ruling party had staged a “civil coup” on July 20, 2016 by issuing the state of emergency.
The CHP spokesperson’s comments came amid speculations that Akar and Kalın had visited former President and Prime Minister Abdullah Gül in order to convince him not to run in the presidential elections.
Gül, who was the founding member of the AKP, had been among the names discussed as the opposition’s presidential candidate after he had appeared alongside Felicity Party (SP) leader Temel Karamollaoğlu on April 22.
Akar and Kalın’s visit was first published on a news channel online. However, the story was deleted afterwards on April 26. Daily Hürriyet columnist Deniz Zeyrek had also hinted at a possible visit on April 27, without giving specific names.
Gül held a press conference on April 28, announcing that he would not run in the presidential race and did not comment on the rumors.
Tezcan criticized that the rumors had not been confirmed or denied, nor had they been covered in the media “as much as they should have.”
“It is a situation that requires an explanation. We are not passing through a period that should involve a courtesy visit. It is openly an attempt at new military tutelage,” he said.
Army cannot be instrumentalized: İYİ Party
Meanwhile, İYİ (Good) Party deputy leader Aytun Çıray also made a statement about the rumored visit.
“It amounts to an intervention in elections and the regime and is a threat to the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections,” read the statement from the İYİ Party on April 30.
“We condemn interference with Gül’s candidacy and which parties will support him as an intervention to democracy,” it read.
Meral Akşener’s opposition party stated that the visit “aimed to intimidate all other parties that will participate in elections.”
“The time is a time where nothing stays secret,” it read.
The İYİ Party also criticized the ruling AKP of intervening in political affairs by “instrumentalizing” the army.
“The Turkish Army cannot be abused under the understanding that everything is legitimate in order to maintain power,” said the statement.