President defies prime minister’s warning on double-headed rule

President defies prime minister’s warning on double-headed rule

President defies prime minister’s warning on double-headed rule

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Recent tension between the country’s top two officials escalated to a new level Oct. 31 as President Abdullah Gül challenged Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, maintaining that he had not overstepped his authority.

The tension stemmed from Gül’s instruction to Ankara’s governor to tolerate people who wanted to celebrate Republic Day independently despite the government ban, prompting Erdoğan to say Oct. 30 that “double-headed rule” would not benefit Turkey.

Gül, ahead of receiving the credentials of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s new ambassador, Damir Dzanko, was asked by reporters about Erdoğan’s remarks on “double-headed rule.”

Gül first said there was no need for misunderstandings and everybody should carefully look at what was said.

“Firstly, of course, there is nothing more normal than, my, as the president, urging authorities’ attention to decent celebration of Republic Day in the entire country. Additionally, there would be no double-headed rule either. In the country’s administration, double-headed rule is not right. Such a thing is out of the question,” Gül said.

“Our Constitution and our current laws have already openly outlined all of our authorities, duties and responsibilities. In this regard, I have the conviction that none of us should lead to misunderstandings.”

Erdoğan’s “double-headed rule” statement followed discussions concerning who had instructed the police to remove the barriers preventing people from walking toward Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Atatürk, despite the Ankara Governorship’s ban. More than 50,000 people gathered in front of the former Parliament building on Oct. 29, and police used water cannons and pepper gas to disperse the crowd.

“We have not ruled this country under double-headed governance. This country will go nowhere with double-headed rule. If there are those who wish this country to be ruled by a presidential system, I am in favor of this. We’ll take these steps much more easily, and there would be no such problem,” Erdoğan told reporters at a press conference Oct. 30.

There were rumors that Erdoğan had given the instruction to remove the barriers but he swiftly denied these claims late Oct. 29 and Oct. 30. All eyes have returned to the president, who invited Ankara Gov. Alaattin Yüksel for a meeting on Oct. 27.

“During the meeting the president told the governor to take the necessary precautions but to be as flexible as possible and to let the people celebrate their holiday the way they want,” a source from the presidency said, “but he did not instruct the governor to remove the barriers on Oct. 29.”

Erdoğan said he did not believe that the order had been given by the president. “My responsibilities as the prime minister are known, so are the president’s.”

Gül’s spokesman Ahmet Sever, in remarks published Oct. 31 by daily Akşam, said the president had not given any order to the governor.

“He asked [us] to be careful so that no shadow would be cast over the celebrations. He asked [us] to be flexible since he saw a potential crisis. This is the situation,” Sever said.