PM dismisses news of Ankara mayor resignation as ‘rumors’

PM dismisses news of Ankara mayor resignation as ‘rumors’

PM dismisses news of Ankara mayor resignation as ‘rumors’

Recent reports about the potential resignation of Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek are just “rumors,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has claimed, despite growing speculation that the capital’s long-time mayor is on the list of officials whose resignation has been sought by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“One should not act on a mere rumor. Who told you [about Gökçek’s resignation]?” Yıldırım told reporters on Oct. 6, responding to questions on reports of Gökçek’s resignation.

His comments came after President Erdoğan, the head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), held a nearly three-hour meeting with Gökçek late on Oct. 5, widely interpreted as his call for the Ankara mayor to step aside.

Presidential sources said the meeting took place upon Gökçek’s demand, while after the meeting the Ankara mayor claimed on his Twitter account that the meeting was about “plans for a museum to be built across from Erdoğan’s presidential complex” in the capital.

Erdoğan also had a one-hour meeting with Erol Kaya, the AKP’s deputy leader responsible for local administrations, at the presidency on Oct. 6. No official statement was made after the meeting.

The president’s office, however, denied media reports saying Erdoğan met with Balıkesir Mayor Edip Uğur, who is also thought to be on a list of mayors who have been asked to resign.

Questions linger over the fate of mayors of key cities in Turkey amid recent resignations from Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş and Düzce Mayor Mehmet Keleş.

Erdoğan has said that mayors suffering from what he calls “metal fatigue” should quit their jobs before the AKP expels them or judicial action is filed against them.

Gökçek was elected as the mayor of Ankara in 1994 and joined the AKP in the early 2000s. He we reelected in Ankara in three consecutive elections in 2004, 2009 and 2014.